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Banpu bumps investment to $1.7bn Indonesian, Australian coal pushes up sales

HUA HIN : Banpu Plc raised its five-year capital expenditure budget through 2015 to US$1.7 billion from $466 million including $600 million to be spent on its Australian coal operations.

Thailand's largest coal miner aims to raise its coal production to 60 million tonnes by 2015 from 47.7 million tonnes this year, said chief executive Chanin Vongkusolkit.

Australian coal production will total 20 million tonnes, 30 million will come from Indonesian mines, 5 million from Mongolia and another 5 million from China.

Investments in Indonesia and at Hongsa Lignite thermal power plant in Laos were also increased.

Excluding capital slated for Australian coal mines, Banpu's investments from 2011-15 were increased by $650 million.

Some 27 million tonnes are expected to be sold from Indonesia this year, 16.7 million from Australia, 3 million from China, and 1 million from Mongolia.

Revenue is projected to grow by 15% this year to 130 billion baht thanks to higher coal sales and favourable prices as a result of strong demand in Asia.

Average sales prices this year are likely to exceed last year's $97.06 per tonne, he added.

Banpu expects Indonesian coal will average $100 per tonne, with Australian coal averaging $75 per tonne.

In 2011, Banpu reported sales revenue of 112.4 billion baht, up by 72% from the previous year.

The increase was attributed to higher sales volume and prices from Indonesian and Australian mines.

However, the company posted a net profit decline of 19% to 20.06 billion baht due mainly to lower recognised equity income from associates and affiliates of 4.17 billion baht.

Operating profit, however, increased by 42% to 13.8 billion baht.

Chief financial officer Somruedee Somphong said management will propose approval of the issuance of 20 billion baht worth of debentures at the shareholders meeting on April 5.

The amount is meant to increase flexibility for investment and refinance debts.

BANPU shares closed yesterday on the SET at 644 baht, down eight baht, in heavy trade worth 1.62 billion baht
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