Banpu expects higher costs to hit coal profits

Banpu, Thailand's top coal miner, expects profits from its coal business in 2010 to be lower than last year due to higher costs, but its chief executive is bullish about the outlook for high-quality coal prices. Revenue this year should be close to 2009's estimated $1.7 billion despite a 12 percent rise in sales volume to 23 million tonnes, Chief Executive Chanin Vongkusolkit told Reuters, blaming the strength of the baht versus the dollar.

Banpu, also Indonesia's fourth-largest coal miner with five mines there, has already fixed selling prices for half of its coal sales this year based on 2009 prices, which were lower than market prices this year.

Banpu, which also has three coal mines in China, aimed to spend $96 million this year as part of planned investment of $466 million over the next six years, mainly to expand its coal and power businesses in Indonesia and China, Mr Vongkusolkit said