Mechel coal and steel group Yuzhny Kuzbass, or Southern Kuzbass Coal Co., cut coal production 46.5% year-on-year in January to July to 5 million metric tons (mt), Interfax reported. A sharp drop in coking coal production, by 2.6 million mt to 2.2 million mt was mainly responsible for the overall reduction in output. Demand for coking coal started to plummet in the fourth quarter of last year. As a result, Southern Kuzbass produced just less than 15 million mt of coal last year as a whole including 7.8 million mt of steam coal and 7 million mt of coking coal. It produced 18.6 million mt in 2007 including 8.7 million mt of coking coal. Southern Kuzbass is one of Russia’s largest coal producers. It operates four open-pits, three deep mines and four prep plants in the Kuznetsk basin in the Kemerovo region.