Whitehaven Coal has posted a 29 per cent jump in fourth-quarter coal production, beating estimates, but warned that pricing pressure was likely to continue as the COVID-19 pandemic dents industrial activity.

Whitehaven said saleable coal output jumped to 6.2 million tonnes for the quarter ending June from 4.8 MT for the same period a year earlier, helped by higher production at its Narrabri mine.

Its shares climbed as much as 14 per cent on the news. By 1200 AEST, the stock was trading at $1.56, still up nearly 7.0 per cent in a subdued Australian market .

The miner said uncertainty surrounding future Chinese import quotas weighed on coal prices in the June quarter, despite high imports of Australian thermal and metallurgical coal to China in the second half of fiscal 2020.

Prices for Whitehaven’s thermal coal, used in power generation, slid to $US59 a tonne from $US84 a year earlier.

Coal prices have slumped as coronavirus-fuelled curbs have disrupted industrial activity in most countries, including top importers Japan and India.

Whitehaven’s pulverized coal (PCI) shipments to India were deferred after customers declared force majeure due to coronavirus.

Due to subdued market conditions, the miner said it would remain cautious in allocating capital to expansion and that it did not expect to consider a final investment decision in relation to its Vickery project in 2020.

The company said it expected a decision from the New South Wales state government on the Vickery project within weeks.