COLUMN-Indonesia, not Australia, doing heavy lifting on cutting coal output – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – June 5, 2015)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, June 5 (Reuters) – Indonesia appears to be doing more of the heavy lifting than Australia when it comes to cutting coal output and exports in the face of persistently weak prices.

Coal production in Indonesia, the world’s largest exporter of the fuel used in power stations, dropped 21 percent year-on-year in the first quarter to 97 million tonnes.

This put the country on track for 2015 output of about 388 million tonnes, which is near the mid-point of the 350-400 million tonnes forecast by Pandu Sjahrir, the chairman of the Indonesian Coal Mining Association.

The low end of Sjahrir’s forecast would mean a decline of 24 percent in coal output in 2015 from 2014, and would also be 75 million tonnes below the 425 million forecast by the government.

In contrast, Australia’s official forecaster expects thermal coal output to be largely steady in the 2014/15 fiscal year.

Output of power-station coal is expected to be 243.5 million tonnes in the year ending June 2015, down slightly from 245.2 million the prior fiscal year, Australia’s Department of Industry and Science said in its March quarter report.

However, it also said that 2014/15 exports should reach 201 million tonnes, up 3.2 percent from the prior fiscal year.

Exports are forecast to rise modestly to 202.9 million tonnes in the fiscal year starting in July, the report said.

But as forecasts can be proven incorrect, it’s worth looking at what data is available for Australian coal shipments.

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