Mechel Boosts Production by 24%

Mechel boosted total coal production by 24 percent last year on demand from metals companies while making less steel itself.

Coal production climbed to 26.4 million tons, of which 15.1 million tons were coking coal, the firm said Thursday in a statement. That represents a 45 percent jump in output of coal used for steelmaking, more than the 4 percent gain in production of the fuel for power plants. Its Romanian steel assets turned in a profit for the first time last year, Mechel said.

Mechel had a record first nine months in 2008, followed by a 50 percent plunge in fourth-quarter orders for coking coal.

Billionaire owner and CEO Igor Zyuzin said last month that the miner would cut steel production by as much as a quarter. Mechel reduced work hours last year to save $30 million without eliminating jobs.