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Why did the Whitehaven Coal share price just hit an 11-year high?

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What an unbelievably great year it has been for the Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) share price.

After briefly touching a year-to-date low of $2.58 in January, the coal producers’ shares haven’t looked back.

During morning trade today, its shares hit an 11-year high to reach $6.63 before profit takers swooped in.

At the time of writing, Whitehaven Coal shares are up 0.94% to $6.43 apiece.

What’s firing Whitehaven shares ahead?

Despite the global economy remaining uncertain, coal prices have continued to surge.

According to Trading Economics, the latest price for the charcoal-coloured rock is fetching at US$398.65 per tonne. This represents a 3.68% increase from the day before and is ultimately boosting the Whitehaven Coal share price.

The IEA released a report on 28 July projecting that global coal demand will return to its all-time high this year.

It noted that this is being driven by rising natural gas prices, which have intensified gas-to-coal switching in many countries.

Subsequently, this is partly offsetting the slow economic growth recorded in China as well as the current tight market conditions. The latter has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

Notably, with coal prices continuing to power ahead, Whitehaven Coal is projecting to deliver its strongest ever full year result.

Management is expecting to report an FY22 EBITDA of approximately $3 billion, subject to a final audit.

These results are expected to be released on Thursday 25 August.

On the back of strong coal prices, the Whitehaven share price has rocketed by more than 146% in 2022.

In comparison, this has outperformed the S&P/ASX 200 Energy (ASX: XEJ) sector which has risen 27% over the same timeframe.

According to ANZ Share Investing, Ord Minnett is bullish on Whitehaven shares, raising its 12-month price target by 14% to $8. Based on where it trades today, this represents an upside of 24%.

Whitehaven commands a market capitalisation of approximately $6.15 billion.

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