Kentucky-based coal mining company, Ramaco LLC, has shown confidence in the coal sector with plans to open mines in West Virginia, Virginia and Wyoming and if that wasn’t enough, the company announced that it is preparing the industry’s first initial public offering in more than a year, at a time when coal prices have been rebounding sharply.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Ramaco, which has yet to produce any coal, is looking to list shares early next year, according to people familiar with the matter. It is actively working with bankers and lawyers on a confidential IPO filing, these people said.
It isn’t clear how the IPO would value the company, or even if the entire company would be part of the IPO. Companies can file confidentially for IPOs on U.S. exchanges if they generate less than $1 billion in annual revenue.
A Ramaco executive told S&P Global Platts in April that the company was delaying plans to start producing this year unless there was a market recovery. The company’s mines show no history of producing under Ramaco ownership, according to S&P Global Platts and Wood Mackenzie.
The coal industry has suffered through one of the toughest downturn in its history but production cut backs in China and Australia have helped spark the biggest rally in global coal since 2011. U.S. prices for metallurgical coal, the type used in steelmaking that Ramaco plans to mine, have doubled since August to $212 a metric ton, according to S&P Global Platts.
Now, higher prices are changing the outlook for troubled coal companies world-wide, especially several of the largest U.S. mining companies that have spent parts of the last year in bankruptcy.
A first-quarter offering would make Ramaco the first coal IPO in about 18 months and place it among a small but growing group of energy companies looking to go public amid a broad recovery in commodity prices.
Ramaco has coal reserves in Appalachia and Wyoming and could spin off only some of those assets into a publicly traded company. Consol Energy Inc. made a similar move a year ago, spinning off just its operations for mining the type of coal that feeds power plants.
Ramaco’s owners include Yorktown Partners LLC and Energy Capital Partners. They put in a combined $90 million of equity into the company in August. It was the third Ramaco investment from Yorktown.