* Russia expected to produce 397.7 mln T of coal, up 3.1 pct y/y
* Exports seen at 176-177 mln T
* Deputy energy minister sees temporary spike in coking coal prices
By Anastasia Lyrchikova
MOSCOW, April 10 (Reuters) - Russia expects to increase its coal output and exports by about 3 percent this year, Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky said.
Production has risen for the past three years and is expected to rise by 3.1 percent to 397.7 million tonnes this year thanks to higher thermal coal output, Yanovsky said.
The country produced 385.7 million tonnes of coal in 2016, of which 171.4 million tonnes were exported.
Exports are expected to rise by 2.7-3.3 percent to 176-177 million tonnes in 2017 thanks to higher production and stable domestic consumption, Yanovsky said.
Thermal coal exports are expected to top 153 million tonnes this year, up from 149 million in 2016, while coking coal exports are expected to rise to 23-24 million tonnes from 21.7 million, he said.
Recent flooding of mines in coal exporter Australia could also support prices, Yanovsky said.
“In the first quarter, (coking coal) prices have slightly fallen but it is obvious that the price (for coal) will rise again for some time - for a month or two - due to heavy rains in Australia which flooded coal mines,” Yanovsky told Reuters.
Australia’s coal supply has been recently hit by a powerful cyclone, forcing major buyers such as China and Japan to search for alternative supplies.
Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coking coal and second in thermal coal, used mainly in power plants to produce electricity.
Yanovsky, whose quotes were approved for publication on Monday, was speaking after Cyclone Debbie made landfall on March 28 in Australia but before the damage was estimated. (Additional reporting by Olesya Astakhova; writing by Polina Devitt; editing by Katya Golubkova and Jason Neely)