MONDE MAOTO

CANADIAN-based thermal and metallurgical coal miner Forbes and Manhattan Coal (Forbes Coal) is reporting significantly higher sales and production from its Magdalena bituminous and Aviemore anthracite operations in SA in the first quarter of financial 2013, ended May.

The company reports total run of mine (ROM) production of 387100 tons, an increase of 28%, with Magdalena's ROM production rising 22% to 262400 tons, and Aviemore's ROM production soaring 41% to 124700 tons.

Forbes Coal reported total saleable production of 245700 tons, an increase of 20%, and total sales of 235000 tons, up 6%.

"Production at Magdalena and Aviemore continues to increase and Forbes Coal's production levels indicate record run of mine and saleable tons for Aviemore," Stephan Theron, president and CEO, said on Friday.

"We are very pleased with expansion and growth at Aviemore. Domestic and export demand for our anthracite product remains strong, and with increased market penetration we are (also) seeing increased demand."

The company also said a second shift in the new section at Aviemore had been brought into production, resulting in increases in ROM and saleable production.

Domestic and export thermal sales increased marginally in the first quarter, while domestic anthracite sales increased significantly as a result of increased production and strong demand.

Most coal sold to domestic and overseas markets continued to be thermal coal, with domestic sales slightly higher than export sales for the quarter.

Domestic sales in the quarter were 138400 tons, a 21% increase on the fourth quarter last year of 114200 tons, while export sales in the first quarter were 96600 tons, a 10% decrease on fourth-quarter export sales of 107300 tons.

In May, Forbes Coal said it was confident that demand for coal in Asia would remain buoyant well into next year, and it was aiming to reach its production target of 1,3-million saleable tons by the end of the 2013 financial year.

It operates in southern Africa through Slater, a subsidiary that holds majority stakes in the Magdalena and Aviemore operations in KwaZulu-Natal.

maotom@bdfm.co.za