SunCoke achieves full independence, plans coal expansion

SunCoke Energy Inc. (NYSE: SXC) said Jan. 17 that as of that day, it became a 100% publicly traded company as a result of Sunoco Inc.’s (NYSE:SUN) distribution of all its remaining shares of SunCoke common stock to Sunoco shareholders.

Until the Jan. 17 distribution, Sunoco had held about 80.9% of the outstanding shares of SunCoke. Sunoco had done an IPO for part of SunCoke in 2011. This latest distribution was made in the form of a tax-free, pro-rata distribution of all the remaining shares of SunCoke common stock owned by Sunoco in the form of a special dividend to Sunoco shareholders.

Sunoco is in several businesses, including oil refining. SunCoke has coal mines, primarily in southwest Virginia, that produce both steam and metallurgical coal. It also has coke production plants in states like Virginia, Ohio and Illinois that bake coal into coke for the steel industry.

Frederick “Fritz” Henderson, the Chairman and CEO of SunCoke, said: “As an independent, publicly-owned company, we believe SunCoke has increased flexibility to pursue domestic and international growth strategies, meet the needs of our steelmaking customers and create opportunities for our employees and shareholders.”

SunCoke expects to report fourth quarter 2011 financial results before market open on Feb. 2.

In a Jan. 10 investor presentation, SunCoke said that its coal mining operations in southwest Virginia and neighboring southern West Virginia are projected for 2011 production of 1.4 million tons. In 2012, SunCoke is projecting 1.15 million tons of production from its Jewell underground mines, 0.30 million tons from its Harold Keene Coal operations acquired in January 2011 and 0.35 million tons from new surface mining work. That adds up to a grand total of 1.8 million tons of projected 2012 coal output.

SunCoke noted in the Jan. 10 presentation that it is currently limited to highwall mining at Harold Keene Coal, but a new contract miner agreement should result in 1.2 million tons of conventional surface mine production over a three-year period beginning in 2012. It has previously revealed that the contractor is Revelation Energy LLC.

SunCoke now has 5.9 million tons per year of coke production capacity with the recent startup of the new Middletown, Ohio, facility at the site of a steel plant owned by coke customer AK Steel. SunCoke has six cokemaking facilities; five in the U.S. and one in Brazil. It hinted in the investor presentation about another plant in the U.S. that it is currently permitting, without providing a location. It has previously said that plant would probably be in Kentucky.

On Jan. 9, SunCoke announced that Karen Peetz, John Rowe and James Sweetnam had been elected to its board of directors. Peetz, 56, is vice chairman of the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Rowe, 66, is chairman and CEO of utility company Exelon Corp. Sweetnam, 59, was most recently the President, CEO and a director of Dana Holding Corp.

In connection with the spinoff of SunCoke from Sunoco, Sunoco Directors Stacy Fox, Michael Hennigan, Brian MacDonald, Charmian Uy and Dennis Zeleny are resigning from the SunCoke board as of Jan. 17.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.