Stanmore Coal (ASX:SMR) more than doubled its coal sales in the June quarter compared to a year ago.

The company reported a 115 per cent year-over-year increase in sales to 688,000 tonnes of coking and thermal coal.

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Shares climbed 3.7 per cent to $1.55 on Thursday morning.

It was a fiscal year of records for Stanmore – with the company producing 2.4 million tonnes of coal, beating guidance of 2.3 million tonnes and a 76 per cent increase on FY18.

This means full-year EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) is expected to come in between $154m and $156m – the top end of Stanmore’s target of $140m to $155m.

Coking coal is a key ingredient in steel production; over 71 per cent of steel produced uses coal.

According to the World Coal Association, world crude steel production in 2017 was 1.6 billion tonnes.

S&P Global Platts senior managing editor Paul Bartholomew told Stockhead recently that China is continuing to produce an “incredible amount” of crude steel despite slimmer margins.

“Steel output to date is up around 10 per cent on last year,” he said.

And it doesn’t appear as if China is going to trim production in a meaningful way anytime soon, according to Bartholomew.

Stanmore noted that it is also getting a better price for its coal.

Its average price compared to the average hard coking coal spot price improved from 62 per cent to 66 per cent over the past four quarters.

Meanwhile, the relativity to the average semi-soft coking coal spot price improved from 109 per cent to 141 per cent over the same period.

The average price per tonne of coal sold was $174.

This has allowed Stanmore to boost the kitty to $90.5m at the end of the June quarter, from $58.4m at the end of the prior quarter.

Stanmore has been paying dividends, most recently returning $4m to shareholders in April via a 3c-per-share dividend.
 

In other ASX bulk metals news:

Australian Pacific Coal (ASX:AQC) has sold part of its stake in fellow Aussie coal player Bowen Coking Coal (ASX:BSB). The company banked nearly $1.6m from selling 35.3 million shares at 4.5c each – double the share price when the company relisted in October 2017. Australian Pacific Coal said it would use the cash to help cover the continued holding costs of the Dartbrook mine as it evaluates partnering and development opportunities.