James River Coal loses money in Q1 as coal market slumps

James River Coal Co. (NASDAQ: JRCC) said May 3 that it had a net loss of $15.7m for the first quarter of 2012, compared to a net loss of $7.6m for the first quarter of 2011.

Peter Socha, James River Chairman and CEO, said: “We are very pleased with the way that our entire organization has responded to an extremely weak coal market. Our operations team has made a number of changes to our mine portfolio to both control our cash costs and preserve capital. Our sales and trading teams have spent a great deal of time understanding the needs of our customer base and selectively adding new contract opportunities. We want to thank both our customers and our employees for their assistance in helping us during these challenging times in the world coal markets.”

C.K. Lane, the James River COO, said: “We are working very hard at controlling our costs and conserving capital in this very volatile market. In particular, we were pleased to have both reduced our capital expenditures below expected levels and maintained our cash costs at the CAPP thermal and met mines within historical levels.”

James River, a major producer of coal in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, and a mid-sized producer in Indiana, said it had company and contractor production of 2.8 million tons in the first quarter of this year, up from 2.1 million tons in the year-ago quarter. Its per-ton coal sales revenue was also up, from $79.04 in the first quarter of last year, to $91.70 in the latest quarter. The cost of coal sold was also up, from $64.07/ton in the year-ago quarter, to $77.64/ton in the first quarter of this year.

  • As of May 2, James River had 8.6 million tons of Central Appalachia coal committed for sale this year at an average price of $94.83/ton. Also as of May 2, it had 2.8 million tons of Indiana/Midwest coal committed for 2012 at $44.16/ton.
  • In 2013, as of May 2, the company had 1.3 million tons of Central Appalachia coal committed at $80.45/ton, and 2.1 million tons of Indiana coal committed at $45.35/ton.
  • In 2014, again as of May 2, James River had 300,000 tons of Central Appalachia coal committed at $75.75/ton, and 700,000 tons of Indiana coal at $49/ton.

Due to unusual volatility in the coal markets and changes to its operating structure, James River said it is withdrawing guidance for 2012 capital expenditures of $125m.

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.