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The Whitehaven Coal Ltd share price is down 4%

The Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) share price is one of many in the resources sector that have fallen sharply today.

In afternoon trade the coal producer’s shares are down 4% to $2.78.

But fortunately for long-term shareholders, Whitehaven’s shares are still up over 180% since this time last year.

The stunning gain was sparked by a change in regulations in China which led to strong rebounds in the prices of both metallurgical and thermal coal.

Although prices have weakened considerably from last year’s highs, they are still high enough to make Whitehaven profitable.

In February Whitehaven reported half-year profit before tax of $226 million, up from $11.8 million a year earlier.

Much like iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG), Whitehaven has taken advantage of its increased profitability to repay debt.

As of February, net debt had been reduced to $628 million with its gearing falling to 17%.

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