TORONTO (Reuters) – Teck Resources Ltd, the world’s second-biggest exporter of steelmaking coal, said on Wednesday that growing global steel production is expected to boost demand for its coal in 2018, though coal trade competition will also likely rise.
Vancouver-based Teck, which also mines copper, zinc, gold and oil sands, said it is “feeling pretty good about 2018” after reporting in-line financial results.
“Most of us forget what this feels like, but it’s certainly very good for commodity markets, and they are now demand driven, rather than supply driven,” Chief Executive Don Lindsay said on a conference call.
“We see continued strength in commodity prices and Teck is certainly well positioned to take advantage of that.”
Steelmaking coal demand is expected to keep climbing in 2018, Teck said, while ongoing logistics and production issues at key Australian mines support prices.
It is unclear how an expected recovery in Australian exports this year and coal trade rebalancing will affect pricing, but Teck said it can respond to changing markets.
Teck sold 6.4 million tonnes of steelmaking coal in the fourth quarter, at an average realized price of $170 per tonne.
It sees 2018 output of 26 million to 27 million tonnes of steelmaking coal. Production in 2019 to 2022 will range between 26.5 million and 27.5 million tonnes, despite this year’s closure of Coal Mountain operations.
Copper production is forecast at 270,000 to 330,000 tonnes in 2018 and 270,000 to 300,000 tonnes for 2019 to 2022. Zinc production is seen at 645,000 to 670,000 tonnes in 2018, dropping to between 575,000 and 625,000 tonnes in 2019 to 2022.
Teck expects its share of production from Fort Hills oils sands mine at 7.5 million to 9 million barrels of bitumen in 2018 and 14 million barrels in 2019 to 2022.
It holds a 20.89 percent stake in Fort Hills, which produced its first oil in January, with partners Suncor Energy and Total SA. Production is seen reaching at least 90 percent of capacity by year-end.
Lindsay said he hopes Teck will build up cash reserves from high commodity prices and see copper supplies tighten before moving ahead with its US$4.7 billion second-phase Quebrada Blanca project. Permits are expected in the first half of 2018 and a decision in the second half.
Shares of Teck, up nearly 15 per cent year-to-date, were about 1 per cent higher at C$37.72 at mid-session.
Reporting by Susan Taylor and Shubham Kalia; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli