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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Indonesia's Coal sector can benefit from clearer regulations - Fitch Ratings

Thursday, 08 March, 2012

Fitch Ratings says Indonesia's coal mining sector should continue to see strong growth prospects but can benefit from clearer and more predictable regulations.

"Fitch expects medium term demand supply dynamics for thermal coal to remain well balanced, leading to healthy prices and strong operational cash flows for Indonesian coal miners," says Shahim Zubair, Associate Director in Fitch's Asia-Pacific Energy & Utilities team. Low production costs are a major advantage for Indonesian coal producers.

In a special report, Fitch notes that the regulatory environment of the Indonesian coal industry is in a state of transition. Further clarity is required on certain major aspects, including the proposed ban on low-rank coal exports. If implemented, the ban can hit certain operators who have significant reserves in low-rank coal. Most of the large coal miners in Indonesia are export-oriented and their coal reserves are either below or marginally above this threshold.

"It is a tough act to balance the health of the industry against long-term domestic energy security of Indonesia" says Mr Zubair. "Fitch believes that Indonesia will take a pragmatic approach to industry regulations as failing to do so can have negative consequences for the sector in the long-run."

Fitch notes the sector's rapid expansion of production and acquisition of coal reserves. A number of operators have acquired, and will continue to acquire, green-field projects which generally entail higher operational and financial risks. However, as long as risks associated with such projects are sufficiently addressed and green-field project development exposure contained, these do not necessarily pose a significant threat to credit profiles.

Credit profiles of Indonesian coal miners remain sub-investment grade, owing to limited mine site diversification, evolving mining regulations, debt-funded expansion and, in some instances, corporate governance issues.

The full report "Indonesia: Coal Mining - Strong Medium-term Outlook; Clearer Regulations Highly Desirable" is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.

(sourced coalspot.com

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