Glencore Scouts for Coal as Prices Sink
Glencore hunting for more coal mines; sees opportunity while sector over-supplied.
Glencore Plc (GLNCY) is looking to buy more coal mines to take advantage of a soft market and position itself for future growth, the head of the firm's global coal division said.
While a 19 percent drop in thermal coal prices in the past twelve months has prompted Glencore, the world's top seaborne trader of thermal coal, to cut exports by 15 million tonnes this year, it is this same downturn that is presenting opportunities for acquisitions.
"These (opportunities) include bolt-ons, synergy plays and option building opportunities. This is a good time in the cycle for this," Peter Freyberg told a business luncheon on Thursday. "We also look at it as part of our DNA ... we have people on the ground, we understand the geographies where we sell our coal.
The downturn in the coal industry, triggered by ample supply and less demand from top consumer China as it attempts to reduce carbon emissions, has also prompted other producers to contract.
Peabody Energy (BTU) has said it is reducing metallurgical coal output by about 1.5 million tonnes a year at its North Goonyella colliery in Australia's Queensland state.
A Peabody spokesman said that 35-40 percent of the 525 jobs at the mine would go.
Teck Resources Ltd last week unveiled plans to suspend production at its six Canadian coal mines for about three weeks in the third quarter, saying it wanted to align output with market conditions.
The Canadian miner also said it will consider additional production adjustments over the course of 2015.
The price of steelmaking coal shipped from Australia is down by nearly 25 percent this year to around $86 a tonne, extending a downward trajectory that began in 2011.
"The reality is that yes, there will be a fair bit of out-of-the money coking coal with a market price like that ... It's just that people have expanded beyond what the market can take," Glencore's Freyberg said.
Glencore's main market, thermal coal, is also smarting.
In the first four months of the year, China's imports of thermal coal fell by almost 41 percent year on year, according to National Australia Bank (NABZY).
By Melanie Burton and James Regan