US coal legend Ernie Thrasher close to bagging Anglo mines

Apollo Global Management is said to be in exclusive talks to buy Anglo American's (LON:AAL) metallurgical coal mines in Australia.

According to the Financial Review, the  Grosvenor and Moranbah mines could fetch around $1 billion and the private equity firm could sign a deal within two weeks:

Apollo is working in a heavyweight consortium with Pennsylvania coal exporter Xcoal Energy & Resources, the largest exporter of coal in the United States and founded by coal legend Ernie Thrasher.

Downsizing  may no longer be the right strategy for Anglo with metallurgical coal prices doubling during the third quarter

The Queensland-based operations have been up for sale since February, when chief executive officer Mark Cutifani outlined a radical divestment strategy to generate between $3bn and $4bn from asset sales this year to drive down debt.

Other firms have also circled the coal mines at various stages of the process, including BHP Billion  through its joint venture with  Japan's Mitsubishi, South32, Glencore and US-based Coronado Coal, with varying reports as to which remain in contention.

Earlier this year, Anglo sold its 70% stake in Foxleigh coal mine, also located in Queensland, to a consortium led by Taurus, an Australian fund manager that invests in the commodities industry. The sale amount was not disclosed.

Some observers have commented that downsizing  may no longer be the right strategy for Anglo with metallurgical coal prices doubling during the third quarter, iron ore 50% above its December lows and a broad improvement in base metal prices.

Metallurgical coal was exchanging hands at $213.40 on Monday according to data provided by Steel Index as it consolidates at higher levels following weeks of panic buying not seen since 2011, when floods in key export region in Queensland saw the price touching to $335 a tonne.