Possible Xstrata deal bucks trend

IN A time of sinking prices for coal internationally, Xstrata appears to have scored a lucrative 12-month supply deal with a Japanese buyer keen for Australia's beautiful black gold.

Reports in the industry press point to a contract signed on Thursday with Japanese power firm Tohoku for 7 million tonnes of thermal coal, used to create electricity.

Although the accepted price for thermal coal sits about $95 a tonne, Xstrata is understood to have managed $97 a tonne.

It sets a precedent that should help other Australian miners score a few extra dollars for their coal.

The miner declined to comment on the deal although industry sources reported the Japanese buyers were happy to pay extra for the high calibre of Australia's coal.Meanwhile, Xstrata confirmed to APN its Queensland expansion of Rolleston west of Mackay and its studies into its gigantic Wandoan project remained on budget and on schedule.

A final decision will be made once the approvals are in place.

Two other new projects in New South Wales were also assured.

Despite this latest win, Xstrata is still officially following the line of other mining giants in declaring an across-the-board hunt to see where it can save money or time in its already-operating mines.