Higher coal prices feed Fording fest

FORDING Canadian Coal Trust reported a 75% profit jump for the 2004 third quarter on the back of higher coal prices.

Staff Reporter

Net income was C$41 million while income from operations was C$51 million during the quarter compared with C$33 million during the same period last year.

Higher prices for company coal drove the strong financial result with continuing strong demand for high quality coking coal providing an opportunity to increase production capacity.

“Approval of capacity additions at Fording River and at Cardinal River's Cheviot Creek pit will increase production from the Partnership's current level of approximately 25 million tonnes to about 28Mt per year. This will allow us to tap into the upside of the current robust market," Fording president Jim Popowich said.

The quarter’s results were offset somewhat by higher costs incurred during planned maintenance shutdowns.

“In addition, we ran the mining operations to the extent possible during these shutdowns to accelerate future coal release resulting in higher costs. We fully expect to meet our sales target of about 25Mt for Elk Valley Coal in 2004, delivering strong operating results for the Trust this year and into 2005," Popowich said.

During the quarter the company received all approvals for the development of the Cheviot Creek pit at the Cardinal River operations with initial coal production expected in November. Funding approval has been given to increase production from the Cheviot Creek pit to 2.8Mt per year.

Fording River’s productive capacity will be increased by about 1Mt to 10.5Mt annually.

The trust owns 60% of Elk Valley Coal Partnership, which combined coal production and export terminal assets of several companies nearly two years ago.