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Indonesia’s Bukit Asam eyes 11% increase in 2023 coal output

Indonesian coal miner PT Bukit Asam is targetting an 11% increase in coal output this year to 41 million tonnes, executives said, as the state-controlled company indicated its U.S. partner in a gasification plant may exit the project.

The company produced 37.1 million tonnes of coal in 2022 and sold 31.6 million tonnes, including 12.5 million tonnes for exports, chief executive Arsal Ismail told reporters on Thursday.

Bukit Asam booked 12.6 trillion rupiah ($816.86 million) in net profit last year, up 159% from a year earlier, as global prices of coal surged amid booming energy demand and supply disruption due to the war in Ukraine.

“This is the biggest profit in Bukit Asam’s history,” Arsal said. For 2023, Bukit Asam is aiming for a sales volume of 41.2 million tonnes.

Meanwhile, Arsal said Bukit Asam’s partner in a $2.3 billion project to turn coal into dimethyl ether (DME), U.S. company Air Products and Chemicals Inc, may exit the partnership.

Arsal said the U.S. company had sent a letter to the government, but declined to share further details.

“The point is Bukit Asam remains committed to support the government’s programmes to do donwstreaming,” he said, adding it had set aside 595 hectares (1,470.28 acres) of land for the DME project and other processing plants.

Air Products and Chemicals did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent by email.

President Joko Widodo launched a ground breaking ceremony for the project last year.

The plant was designed to utilise 6 million tonnes of low-grade coal to produce 1.4 tonnes of DME annually, which could reduce Indonesia’s liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports by 1 million tonnes per year, according to Bukit Asam.

Arsal said Bukit Asam may now consider approaching other companies that had previously been among the contenders as a strategic partner for the gasification plant.
Source: Reuters

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