Polish coal mining swings to profit on prices, restructuring

Net profit at Polish coal mines stood at 1.45 billion zlotys ($400.06 million) in the first half of the year compared to a 800 million zlotys loss a year earlier amid higher coal prices and restructuring, data from a state agency showed on Tuesday.

Data by the Industrial Development Agency (ARP), quoted by state-run news wire PAP, said the average price, including thermal and coking coal, rose by 38 percent year on year in the first half of the year to 317.09 zlotys per tonne.

Coal stocks put aside at the mines declined to 1.9 million tonnes from 5.2 million a year earlier, the agency also said, adding that coal output fell to 32.7 million tonnes in the first six months of 2017 from 34.3 million tonnes last year.

ARP representative, Henryk Paszcza, quoted by PAP attributed the improvement in mines' results to the ongoing restructuring of the industry, which has resulted in the shutdown of the most loss-making mines and led to headcount reduction.

Paszcza said he expected total coal output at 66-67 million tonnes this year compared to 70.4 million in 2016.

The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has simplified the structure of Poland's biggest coal miner PGG, formerly known as Kompania Weglowa, and bailed it out with the help of state-run utilities, including the biggest power producer PGE.

Earlier this year PGG took over its smaller troubled rival KHW, also with the help of other state-run firms.

As a result, the number of employees in the Polish coal mining industry fell by 3,000 people since the start of 2016 to 81,700 as of end June 2017.

($1 = 3.6245 zlotys) (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko, editing by David Evans)