Patriot Coal reported first quarter sales of 8 million tons, including 6.1 million tons of thermal and 1.9 million tons of metallurgical coal. Total sales were 5% higher than the 7.6 million tons sold in the first quarter of 2010, which included 6 million tons of thermal and 1.6 million tons of metallurgical coal.

“This quarter marked a very solid start for the year. We expect 2011 performance to be our best yet as a public company, with record sales of high-margin metallurgical coal,” said Richard M. Whiting, president and CEO, Patriot Coal. “Even more important are our strategies for further performance improvements in 2012 and beyond. We are intensely focused on our plans to expand metallurgical coal production to at least 11 million tons by 2013.”

Patriot has booked more than 3 million tons of met coal for 2011 and 2012 delivery at an average selling price of $173/ton. The company’s average selling price for met coal for the remainder of 2011 now stands at nearly $150/t. “On the thermal side, we continued to benefit from rising prices in the global marketplace, and have now contracted more than 3 million tons for delivery to international markets in 2011 and 2012,” Whiting said.

Patriot is embarking on a multi-year expansion of met coal operations in Appalachia. A second continuous miner section recently began production at the Black Oak mine. Additionally, the Gateway Eagle mine in the Rocklick complex and the Workman Branch mine in the Wells complex are both expected to be brought on-line in the second quarter. Development work is also ongoing at the new Peerless mine in the Kanawha Eagle complex.

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