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Polish JSW's 2017 coking coal output falls 7.8% to 10.676 million mt

Polish Jastrzebska Spolka Weglowa, Europe's largest coking coal producer, said its coking coal output in 2017 fell 7.8% to 10.676 million mt while external sales dropped 6.7% to 5.937 million mt following the sale of two mines.

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Thermal coal output and sales fell 22% and 21%, respectively, to 4.093 million mt and 4.168 million mt, JSW said.

The declines were due largely to JSW selling its Krupinski mine in March 2016 and its Jas-Mos mine in October 2016. Higher sales than output saw thermal coal stocks drop 68% to 52,600 mt at the end of 2017.

Coking coal accounted for 72.3% of JSW's total 14.77 million mt production and thermal coal, 27.7%, whilst the split in sales was 71.4% coking coal and 28.6% thermal coal.

JSW said it sold 8.3 million mt of coking coal on the domestic market, mainly to its subsidiary JSW Koks and to ArcelorMittal, and 2 million mt to other EU markets. Coking coal stocks were up 80% year on year at the end of 2017 to 592,600 mt.

The company's Borynia-Zofiowka-Jastrzebie and Pniowek mines produced 99% coking coal with low ash, sulfur and volatile matter content.

The Budryk and Knurow-Szczyglowice mines produced 30% and 53% coking coal, respectively, mainly coking gas coal with low ash and sulfur content but with a higher amount of volatile matter.

JSW benefited from higher sales prices, with its average coking coal price rising 63.7% year on year to Zloty 656.63/mt ($193/mt) up from Zloty 401.12/mt. The company's average thermal coal price increased 10.2% to Zloty 206.71/mt.

According to JSW's own pricing data, its average achieved price in the first quarter of 2017 was 21% above the TSI premium hard benchmark. It slipped below the benchmark in all three remaining quarters, reaching 87% of the benchmark in the fourth quarter.

Coke production in 2017 dropped 16.6% year on year to 3.458 million mt and sales to external customers fell 16.3% to 3.46 million mt thanks to the sale of JSW's Victoria coking plant.

JSW sold 1.8 million mt inside the EU, 0.6 million mt inside Poland and 1.1 million mt to non-European markets, mainly India. Coke stocks were down 18% at the end of 2017 to 194,100 mt.

JSW achieved an average coke sales price in 2017 of Zloty 936.32/mt, up 63.5% year on year from Zloty 572.64/mt.

Despite the divestment of some of its unprofitable assets, JSW's unit mining cost rose 24.3% year on year to Zloty 312.54/mt.

Investment capex in 2017 rose 23.6% year on year to Zloty 854 million with work to construct the 1080 m level in the Borynia-Zofiowka-Jastrzebie mine already 51% complete on December 31, 2017, construction of the 1,290 meters level in the Budryk mine 75% advanced, expansion of the 1,000 meters level in the Pniowek mine 18% advanced and the modernization of the mechanical coal processing plants in Budryk and Knurow-Szczyglowice.

JSW posted a net profit for 2017 of Zloty 2.539 billion, up from Zloty 6.7 million in 2016.

--Adam Easton,

--Edited by Dan Lalor,