Austral posts $13 million profit

AUSTRAL Coal will be on the lookout for new overseas markets in 2003 to offset what will be a big year of spending for the Australian coal producer after it posted a full-year after-tax profit of $13.44 million. Published on, February 27.

Brad Ricks

The earnings - a significant jump from $4.2 million in 2001- will be put back into the business, with significant capital investments being made in new plant and equipment.

Austral recorded total revenue of $99.8 million for the year to December 31 with solid production of 1.95 million run of mines tonnes and sales of 1.39Mt of clean coal.

On the share front, this profit equated to a return of 10.1c per share.

Austral managing director Ugo Cario said capital and development expenditure would accelerate following the awarding of contracts for several major projects, the biggest being the development of 18,000m of underground roadways and a new longwall system.

Austral secretary Stephen Peterson said this expenditure, combined with the expected doubling of production for 2003, has made the company look for new business opportunities in the coming year.

"We are going to have to do something, we definitely have to beef up the sales, that is one of the reasons we are looking further afield," Peterson said.

"We're spreading the wings a bit further, we will put a bit more into Japan this year, but we are also looking at South America, Taiwan, beefing up Germany and maybe a bit more into India."

Austral shares are slightly up at the moment to 53c after dropping to 52c on the Australian Stock Exchange.

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