Anglo American pins hopes on strong metallurgical coal market

Dawson coal mine. Image: Anglo American.

Anglo American is backing metallurgical coal to be a hot commodity for the company from 2020 and beyond.

The company is hosting an analyst and investor visit in Brisbane this week, providing an update on its bulks businesses.

Anglo American is updating investors on its Australian metallurgical coal operations, Kumba and Minas-Rio iron ore businesses and its nickel and export thermal coal operations.

Bulks are a key contributor to Anglo American’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), delivering $3.358 billion or a 47 per cent margin.

Looking ahead, metallurgical coal is going to be a key commodity for the company, despite a slight drop in production guidance from 23-25 million tonnes to 22-24 million tonnes in 2020.

Anglo American’s metallurgical coal guidance for 2022 increases to an estimated 26-28 million tonnes.

This is due to driven demand by urbanisation in China and India, particularly the latter, which imports 75 per cent of its seaborne metallurgical coal from Australia.

“We believe our iron ore, met coal and nickel businesses are well set to meet future demand trends,” Anglo American Bulk Commodities chief executive officer Seamus French said.

“We offer our customers a reliable supply of niche steelmaking products with low levels of contaminants.

“For example, in the first half of 2019 our iron ore saw an average iron content of more than 65 per cent, above any of the other major producers, contributing towards the sustained price premia we realise for our products.”

To support this, Anglo American is looking at growth opportunities for its mines, including at Moranbah-Grosvenor met coal mine in Queensland, where there will be works to debottleneck the wash plant, maximising its longwall potential.

“We have a disciplined approach to growth, with numerous debottlenecking and life extension opportunities in the medium term,” French said.

“Combined with our ongoing focus on setting new operational performance benchmarks and the introduction of step-change technologies aimed at safety, productivity and smaller environmental footprint, we see only a strengthening of our position.”

Leading up to the update, Anglo American has provided a revised production guidance for the remainder of 2019, with a 10 per cent increase for its Brazilian iron ore project Minas-Rio and an unchanged guidance for Kumba iron ore and metallurgical coal.

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