10 Feb 2010 14:32

Mechel revises Yakutia coal production forecast up 20%

MOSCOW. Feb 10 (Interfax) - The Mechel coal and steel group's Yakutia-based coal mining unit Yakutugol now plans to produce 9.6 million tonnes of coal this year, 20% above a previous forecast, made before the markets started to recover.

The coal industry hit bottom in the summer, and the markets revived from September onwards, starting with China, then Korea and Japan, Igor Khafizov, managing director of Yakutugol, said at a conference of OJSC Mechel Mining managers in Mezhdurechensk. OJSC Mechel Mining has consolidated the Mechel group's upstream assets.

"We should be producing 800,000 tonnes per month by May, up from 550,000 tonnes at present, and 900,000 tonnes in October. We need to step up stripping to 5 million tonnes in order to achieve that, and we should have stripped 6.4 million tonnes by the end of the year. We'll commission stage three of the coal enrichment plant in April," Khafizov said.

The Mechel group cut coal production 33% to 17.8 million tonnes in 2009, including coal produced by Mechel Bluestone since May 1, 2009. This included 10.2 million tonnes of coking coal.

Mechel has metals, coal, power and transport assets in several countries. OJSC Mechel Mining has consolidated coal producers Yakutugol and Southern Kuzbass Coal Company , iron ore producer Korshunov GOK and a limestone producer.

Igor Zyuzin, the chief executive, is the group's main beneficiary. The free float in American Depositary Receipts (ADR) is around 25%.