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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        20 January 2011

Indonesian coal producer sees banner year

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Bumi Resources, Indonesia's top thermal coal producer, forecast strong revenue growth this year as coal demand surged, a top executive said.

"We are expecting at least a 10 percent increase in average selling price this year compared with last year," said Dileep Srivastava, a director at the miner.

Bumi expected to sell 66 million tons of coal this year, Dileep said.

Although he did not provide projections, an expected 10 percent increase in average prices to $77 per ton would bring in at least $5 billion in revenue.

Dileep said coal prices were being pushed up because severe weather, especially in Australia, Indonesia and China, was slowing output just as demand from China and India was spiking.

"Bad weather had pushed coal production down, and the producers don't have the stock to supply the market," he said.

Ibrahim, a senior commodities analyst at Askap Futures, said coal prices would likely increase over the first six months of the year before stabilizing.

"In the first semester, we can expect about a 10 to 12 percent increase in coal prices, but it will slow down in the second semester," he said.

Bumi sold 60 million tons of coal at an average price of $70 per ton last year, when coal prices soared by about 30 percent.

Full-year revenue figures were not available, but the miner booked $3.2 billion in revenue last year through September, a 21 percent rise from the year-earlier period.

However, the miner's net income fell 37 percent to $195.6 million in the first nine months of 2010 from $310.6 million in the same period the previous year.

But prospects for coal are bright, with global financier Nathaniel Rothschild in November paying $3 billion for a 25 percent stake in Bumi along with a 75 percent share of Berau Coal Energy, the nation's fifth-largest producer.

London-listed Vallar was the vehicle for the purchase in a cash and shares transaction.

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