October 11, 2017 / 10:52 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Whitehaven 1st-qtr coal sales beat forecast amid strong demand

* Whitehaven coal sales up 23 pct in Q1

* Says demand from China keeping market tight (Adds thermal coal price, outlook)

Oct 12 (Reuters) - Australia’s Whitehaven Coal Ltd on Thursday said equity coal sales rose 23 percent to 4.7 million tonnes in the September quarter against the same period a year ago amid strong demand from Asian buyers.

The figure topped a UBS forecast of 4.2 million tonnes.

“The higher-quality end of the thermal coal market is experiencing stronger demand as a number of key seaborne end users are changing their quality requirements due to a greater focus on environmental and generation efficiency,” Whitehaven said.

The coal burn for electricity generation in China had risen by 8 percent from a year ago due to hydropower supply constraints and strength of underlying electricity demand, creating tightness on the supply side, according to the company.

Whitehaven said it sold its thermal coal for an average $91 per tonne over the quarter, a 3.2 percent discount on the quoted average price of $94 per tonne.

Whitehaven’s stock is trading at five-year highs on the back of strong thermal coal prices, which have averaged $92.50 a tonne since Oct. 1, according to Thomson Reuters data. (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; editing by Byron Kaye, G Crosse and James Regan)

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