Glencore Xstrata’s coking coal production up 12% in January-September

Glencore Xstrata saw coking coal production increase by 12% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2013 on productivity improvements at its Oaky Creek mine in Australia.

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The London-listed commodities company’s Australian coking coal production increased to 5.6 million tonnes during the period, up from 5 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2012, Glencore Xstrata said in a results statement on Thursday October 31

The miner said the increase in output was also driven by its recovery from geology-related production issues in 2012.

The increase in output at Glencore Xstrata’s coking coal mines comes after it announced a cut in cash costs in the business of 28% in the past year.

Average realised export prices for Australian coking coal dropped 32% to $147 per tonne in January-September 2013, down from $215 per tonne in the first nine months of 2012.

While coking coal prices have tumbled from highs of more than $300 per tonne in the first half of 2011, the past quarter has seen prices recover from three year lows seen earlier in 2013.

Steel First’s assessment for premium hard coking coal cfr Jintang has climbed from lows of less than $140 per tonne in early July to $162 per tonne in late October.

Glencore Xstrata said the current low price environment had seen it reduce production at Oaky North and ramp-down output at its Collinsville mine, which closed last month.

Coking coal only accounts for a small proportion of Glencore Xstrata’s coal business, which comprises 33 mines across Australia, South Africa and Colombia.