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Australia’s New Hope sees stronger thermal coal prices here to stay

Miner New Hope Corp NHC.AX said on Tuesday it saw stronger prices for thermal coal ahead, given construction of new coal-fired power plants in Asia and floods in Australia’s coal-producing New South Wales state.

Flooding has shut some rail lines across the Hunter Valley in NSW and disrupted ship movements at the world’s biggest export port of Newcastle this week, helping to send thermal coal prices to two-year highs of $94. The downpour is expected to continue over the next few days.

For New Hope, the rains have had little impact on its Bengalla operations but the situation remains unpredictable and is supporting prices in the short term, Chief Executive Reinhold Schmidt said.

Peer Whitehaven Coal WHC.AX revised its production guidance on Tuesday due in part due to the weather, after several major coal producers noted production disruptions on Monday.

Prices are set to hold above $90 a tonne, driven by supply kinks amid lower production out of Indonesia, said Schmidt, while the construction of new coal plants outside of China is supporting demand.

“There is definitely no problem with trajectory of our business,” he said, noting that it has diversified its customer base to other Asian countries including India and Pakistan.

China has stopped taking Australian coal shipments after a diplomatic row prompted the world’s second-largest economy to impose trade reprisals against Canberra.

New Hope, which sees a stronger second half, posted a loss attributable to shareholders of A$55.4 million ($42.9 million) for the six months ended Jan. 31, compared with a profit of A$69.8 million a year earlier.

There was still uncertainty around the future of its environmentally contentious New Acland mine in Queensland, forcing it to ramp down operations there in the absence of regulatory approvals to expand the project, it said in a statement.

New Hope declared a fully franked interim dividend of 4 cents per share, lower than the 6 cents per share it paid a year earlier.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbuorne and Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Stephen Coates)

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