Report: Glencore, X2 in fight over thermal coal

Rio Tinto, Glencore could save $500m by joining coal businesses

A merger of Mount Thorley Warkworth and Bulga would create a 15-kilometre long ‘‘super pit.’

A report in Australia's Financial Review with no less than three authors says Glencore (LON:GLEN) has resumed discussions about Rio Tinto's (NYSE:RIO) Australian coal assets.

According to the report Glencore is going up against Mick Davis' X2 Resources which has been in "serious" talks to acquire Rio’s Hunter Valley mines for months.

The Bengalla, Hunter Valley and Mount Thorley Warkworth mines are next door to Glencore's coal operations. The Swiss giant has been keen to consolidate its business in the country, but has balked at Rio's asking price said to be in the region of $3 billion.

The three mines produced 28 million tonnes of thermal coal in 2013, the last year for which data is available and almost 6 million tons of semi-soft coking coal.

X2, which has $5.6 billion to spend on mining assets, has so far expressed interest in a number of assets in copper, coal and other commodities, but has yet to make its first acquisition.

At just above $60 a tonne, Australia's thermal coal export prices is the lowest in eight years and worth less than a third of its peak in mid-2008.