The Coal Trader

Whitehaven considers sale of 20% of coal mine to steel producers

Whitehaven Coal Ltd. is studying options to sell a 20% stake in the Blackwater mine to global steelmakers as it works to finalize a $3.2 billion deal for two Australian assets. The producer is exploring opportunities as it also works to complete the acquisition of Blackwater and Daunia sites from co-owners BHP Group Ltd. and Mitsubishi Corp. by early April.

“Interest is very, very strong” in relation to a stake in Blackwater, chief executive officer Paul Flynn told analysts Friday on a call. “We’ll think about the opportunity with Daunia at a later date.”

Whitehaven’s shares advanced as much as 7.3% as of 12:10 p.m. Sydney time.

Metallurgical coal, used in steel production, is showing signs of strengthening and an “anticipated growing structural shortfall” in higher quality material to supply Asia — and particularly India — will underpin prices over the longer term, the producer said.

Whitehaven’s average received coal price fell 4% in the three months to Dec. 31 on the previous quarter, as the market continues to normalize after 2022’s shocks to energy supply. Global demand for the fossil fuel likely peaked in 2023, according to the International Energy Agency.

High-calorific value thermal coal prices are likely to remain strong over the long-term because of underinvestment in new supply and the depletion of existing mines, Whitehaven said. Russian sanctions and weather-related impacts in Queensland have also contributed to recent tightness.