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Peabody to ease Illinois Basin coal production this year

Highlights

Target range of 17.5 million-18.5 million st

Clear demand, but pricing not providing enough return

Louisville, Kentucky — Peabody Energy plans to "ease production" from its Illinois Basin coal mines this year, targeting a range of 17.5 million st to 18.5 million for 2019, slightly less than in 2018, Charlene Murdock, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis-based company, said Monday.

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She said production will be decreased "across several smaller complexes to optimize margins," but did not identify the complexes in question.

In southern Indiana, Peabody operates a number of smaller mines that were once owned and operated by Black Beauty Coal, which was sold to Peabody in the 1990s. Peabody also operates the largest surface mine east of the Mississippi River -- Bear Run in Sullivan County, Indiana, which typically turns out about 8 million st of coal annually.

Murdock said Peabody "has the ability to move contracts, equipment and people among mines. In 2019, we are moving contracts between mines to deliver lower-cost products to meet seaborne demand. While there is demand for our products in the Illinois Basin, pricing in some cases is not at a level that provides a clear return of our cost of capital."

Peabody said last week it is focusing company-wide on exports in 2019 given higher seaborne demand and pricing for thermal coal.

-- Bob Matyi, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Annie Siebert, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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