[Ferro-Alloys.com] Despite dropping metallurgical coal prices, Arch Coal had a stronger-than-expected third quarter as it increasingly focused on its met segment, executives said during the producer's third-quarter earnings call.
Arch sold 2.1 million st in the third quarter from its metallurgical segment, up 9.5% year on year. Sales per ton sold was $98.89/st during the quarter, down from $104.75/st in Q3 2018, and cash cost per ton was $64.89/st, up from $62.54/st.
"Several high-cost US coking coal mines have idled in recent weeks in response to the lower price environment, and US exports are down 11% through August with further erosion possible. Australian output is up only modestly and continues to undershoot the level achieved in the peak year of 2016," CEO John Eaves said. "In short, supply and demand appear modestly out of balance at present, and corrective measures seem to be underway."
In the met market, as well, "I think you're going to see more cutbacks," CFO John Drexler said during the call. "Prices were $200, and you still had the volume going down. I mean, we're down 11% year to date on exports, and we expect that number to go down further between now and the end of the year."
Arch Senior Vice President Deck Slone said: "We wouldn't mind seeing the market stay down for a bit, quite frankly, because it does tend to separate the wheat from the chaff, sort of drives out the higher-cost production, perhaps chases away some of these marginal projects that shouldn't be looking at coming into the market. But we're not sure that these prices are going to stay down for very long, given how quickly you're seeing the supply response."
During Q3, Arch entered agreements to supply 1.5 million st of coke to North American customers in 2020 at a price of about $110/st and 1.6 million st into the seaborne market on an index-based pricing structure.
In the PRB, Arch expects reduced volumes and higher unit costs in Q4.
Arch Coal (ACI) is the second largest U.S. coal producer. (S&P Global Platts)
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