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Australia's Whitehaven expects to be debt-free next year as coal prices soar

10/14/2021 | 03:56am EDT
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Australia's biggest independent coal miner Whitehaven Coal Ltd is displayed on their office building located in the north-western New South Wales town of Gunnedah in Australia

(Reuters) -Australia's Whitehaven Coal said on Thursday it expects to be debt-free by early 2022, as thermal coal prices surge to record highs on recovering power demand and supply constraints.

Newcastle thermal coal futures - Asia's benchmark - averaged $168.52 a tonne in the September quarter, Whitehaven said, more than tripling from a year earlier and 54% higher from the prior three months.

Whitehaven said it would be in a net cash position by March 2022 as it expects coal prices to remain high on industrial activity rebounding, tighter supply due to adverse weather conditions and export restrictions in Indonesia.

Its average realised price of $142 a tonne was lower than the Asia benchmark's in the quarter as over half of its thermal coal book was priced in the prior periods.

Whitehaven said it expects to rake in the benefits of higher prices in the coming months.

Global supply constraints and recovering demand for energy has led to power shortages in China, India and Europe.

Whitehaven, which reaffirmed its fiscal 2022 production guidance, reported a 4% drop in managed saleable coal production to 4.7 million tonnes from a year earlier.

(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan and Tejaswi Marthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Ramakrishnan M.)

© Reuters 2021
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