BHP Billiton is set to show better than expected quarterly production of Australian coal, thanks to a trend of rising shipments from a key mining state.
Recent data show coal exports were up considerably in the last financial year in New South Wales, Australia, where BHP has extensive coal operations including its Mount Arthur thermal coal mine, the largest production site in the state’s Hunter Valley.
BHP is expected to release its Q4 2013 production figures this week, with analysts expecting overall flat coal output for the period. Mining giants Glencore Xstrata and Rio Tinto also operate in New South Wales.
China buys just under a fifth of New South Wales’ coal exports, and is the second largest customer behind Japan. Exports from the state to China rose by almost a third to 31 million t in the year to 30th June, according to Coal Services Pty Ltd, which compiles statistics for the state’s coal mining sector.
Lower pricing and higher operating costs over the past two years have left coal as the weakest of the four pillars of BHP's core business behind iron ore, petroleum and copper.
Chief Executive of the New South Wales Minerals Council, Stephen Galilee, commented: “Finally, there is some good news, with demand for New South Wales coal rising significantly in China, contrary to some of the rhetoric we have been hearing that demand for coal is diminishing. The data also shows demand for coal is growing steadily across all our main export markets."
Edited from various sources by Katie Woodward
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