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Peabody Puts Wilkie Creek Coal Mine In Australia Up For Sale

SYDNEY -(Dow Jones)- U.S. coal giant Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU) has hired UBS AG to find a buyer for its Wilkie Creek coal mine in Australia, in a move that's likely to kindle interest from Asian nations vying to secure coal supply for their growing fleet of power plants. Peabody said the decision to sell Wilkie Creek, which produces more than 2 million metric tons of thermal coal annually for export, was taken in the final three months of last year following its 4.9 billion Australian dollars (US$5.1 billion) takeover of Macarthur Coal. Rapid industrialization in China and India is driving heavy investment in coal-fired power generation, supporting thermal coal prices in the Asia-Pacific region and boosting valuations of mines in countries like Australia and Indonesia, which account for much of the world's seaborne coal trade. Thermal coal from Wilkie Creek is railed to the port of Brisbane and then exported to Japan, Taiwan and South Korea for use in power generation. However, Wilkie Creek's location in the Surat Basin of southeast Queensland state means it lies outside Peabody's core operations in the Bowen Basin, which include Macarthur Coal's producing mines. -By David Winning and Gillian Tan, Dow Jones Newswires; +61-2-82724688; david.winning@dowjones.com

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