JAKARTA, Dec. 10 -- Indonesia's government forecasts coal output will increase by 19 percent next year as drier weather enables miners to ramp up production amid growing regional demand, a senior mining official said on Wednesday.
Indonesia, the world's top thermal coal exporter, is seen producing 327 million tonnes next year, versus expected 2010 output of 275 million tonnes, said Bambang Setiawan, director general of coal and mineral resources at the energy and mineral resources ministry.
"Demand for coal is good so far. But production can change depending on the weather so hopefully the weather will be better next year," Setiawan told Reuters.
Indonesia has been hit by unseasonally heavy rains this year during what is normally the dry season of July to September, hitting output of coal, tin and other metals from miners such as Bayan Resources . For a Q+A story on the impact of the rains, click [ID:nJAK497065].
Growth in Indonesia's coal output will also be sustained in the next five years by expansion from the country's top 10 miners that make up about two-thirds of the country's production, said Somyot Ruchirawat, president director of PT Indo Tambangraya Megah , the country's fourth-largest producer and a unit of Thai miner Banpu .
"We forecast that Indonesia coal production growth in 2009-2015 will be around 11 percent per year and mostly from the major producers as well as newcomers," said Ruchirawat, at a mining conference in Bali.
"Supply will be sufficient to meet both the domestic and overseas market," he said.
Investment by major buyers India and China in the country's coal sector is expected to grow next year as they are struggling to secure supply.
"A lot of companies from India and China will be participating in coal investment," said Ruchirawat, adding some would look to be operators while others would just seek to hold equity stakes.
While Chinese investors have struggled to buy stakes in Indonesian miners so far, Indonesia's powerful Bakrie family has joined forces with the Rothschild banking dynasty to cement its dominance of the Indonesian sector through a London-listed company Bumi Plc that plans to be the largest supplier of thermal coal to China