This article may seem contrary to an article I published recently titled Despite Japanese Trauma, Uranium Is Not Dead. I assure you it is complementary and not contrary.
Nuclear power will continue to play a role in servicing the world's energy demands as a clean and efficient alternative to fossil fuels. However, while I do not believe uranium is dead, it may forfeit some near-term growth due to countries delaying nuclear projects. This should benefit companies with thermal coal operations and especially those that export large quantities to Asia. It is no secret that coal companies have had a strong run over the last year, but for those with a long-term time horizon, they may still produce above average returns as the gap between production and demand is expected to widen. Below are a few companies that produce and export coal around the world.
Xstrata PLC (OTC:XSRAY) is a large diversified metals and mining company with operations around the world. The company is the largest coal exporter in the world and has additional operations in alloys, copper, zinc and nickel. Coal and copper are the driving force behind the operating profits of Xstrata. While copper led the way in 2010, any increases in demand for coal will certainly pad the bottom line. The company has interests in over 30 operating coal mines in Australia, South Africa and Columbia. In addition, the company has a 75% owned exploration project in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU) is one of the largest pure play-coal companies in the world. If you are looking for a large pure-play coal company based in the United States with worldwide operations, this may be the one for you. Peabody has 28 coal operations in the United States and Australia as well as a 25.5% interest in the largest mine located in Venezuela. The company also has a major coal trading business with offices around the world including the United States, Europe, Australia, China, Indonesia, South Africa, South America and Singapore.
Anglo American PLC (OTCPK:AAUKY) is a company I have highlighted before in my article, titled Anglo American: A Diversified Commodities Play With Platinum Exporsure. As the title suggests, this is a diversified mining company with nine thermal coal operations in South Africa and a 33% interest in Cerrejon Coal in Columbia. This is not even close to a pure play on thermal coal, but is a well diversified mining company that is in the process of divesting non-core assets that should benefit the company over time and make coal a larger part of revenue. If you wish to learn more about the other operations of Anglo American you can read my previous article here.
SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (OTC:SGQRF) is a pure-play producer of coal and one of the largest exporters of coal in Mongolia. The company currently has one operating mine and two exploration mines located near the border of China. This close proximity to fast growing Asian markets will certainly benefit the company especially as additional infrastructure is developed. An alternative way to get exposure to SouthGobi Resources is through Ivanhoe Mines (IVN). Ivanhoe holds a 57% interest in SouthGobi. In addition to its coal holdings, Ivanhoe also has exploration and development interests in gold, copper, molybdenum as well as other metals and minerals.