Glencore Plc (GLEN), the world’s biggest exporter of power-station coal, will stop production at its Australian mines for three weeks as prices languish at a five-year low.
The decision to halt operations starting in mid-December will rein in output in Australia by about 5 million metric tons, the Baar, Switzerland-based company said in a statement today. That’s equal to about 6 percent of Glencore’s Australian coal production last year.
Glencore, led by Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg, is tapping the brakes on what has been a steady period of growth in coal production. A slide in prices has forced operators to shut mines as lower-cost producers like Glencore raised output, deepening a global glut.
“There is a broad, bearish tone in the market and investors are focusing on the negative headlines,” Daniel Hynes, senior commodity strategist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., said today by phone. “So whether this actually supports the short-term price is debatable, but on a fundamental basis it will help.”
Glencore, which proposed a merger with Rio Tinto Group in July, reported earlier this month that it increased coal output by 9.2 percent in the third quarter to 40.2 million tons, driven by expansion at energy coal mines in Australia. Glencore’s Australian coal output last year was 81 million tons, according to a presentation in September.
The price of energy coal from Australia’s Newcastle port, a benchmark for Asia, is down 27 percent this year to $61.85 a ton last week, the lowest since 2009, according to McCloskey.
“We remain confident in demand growth for our products and believe that the supply and demand balance will be restored in the medium term,” the company said today.
In the iron ore industry, Glasenberg has argued that his two biggest rivals have got it wrong by feeding a global glut.