The Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) share price gained 23% in May

The coal miner’s share price is soaring back after a fruitful month in May.

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The Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) share price bounced back and gained in May after a dismal performance in the month of April.

Shares in Whitehaven Coal gained 23.4% over the course of last month.

The coal miner’s shares were driven by increases in the price of coal, positive broker notes, and a Federal Court ruling.

Let’s take a closer look at what pushed the Whitehaven Coal share price last month.

The Whitehaven Coal share price in May

Price of coal

Before the company uttered its first, and only piece of news for May, the Whitehaven Coal share price increased by 17%.

According to Forbes, over the course of the month the company’s shares were driven by the price of coal.

The price of coal spent most of May moving upwards. At the start of the month, a tonne of coal would set you back US$90. By the last day of May, it had hit a nearly 3-year high, trading for US$109 per tonne.

Forbes reported the coal price’s gains were driven by China’s demand for coal paired with a drop in its local production and its ban on Australian coal imports.

As a result, Australian coal producers – such as Whitehaven Coal – were able to find other markets to export their products to.

The rallying coal price has since continued to gain. At the time of writing, the price of coal is US$112.55 per tonne.

Positive broker notes

On 17 May, both Macquarie and Credit Suisse upgraded Whitehaven Coal shares to an outperform rating on valuation grounds. Macquarie set a $1.70 price target for Whitehaven shares and Credit Suisse set a $1.55 price target.

The broker notes provided the company’s share price with a 2.9% gain.

Federal Court ruling

Whitehaven Coal ended the month on a high as the Federal court dismissed proceedings looking to prevent Environment Minister Susan Ley from granting approval for Whitehaven’s Vickery Extension Project.

The Vickery Extension Project is seeking to increase the size of the undeveloped Vickery Coal Project.

If approved, the Vickery Coal Project will be an open cut coal mine producing up to 10 million tonnes per annum of mostly metallurgical coal – known as coking coal.

Whitehaven Coal stated it believes high-quality coal has an important role in reducing global carbon emissions while supporting economic development.

Whitehaven Coal share price snapshot

May’s gains have meant that more investors are buying Whitehaven Coal shares.

Currently, the Whitehaven Coal share price is up 4.5% year to date. Though, it’s still down by 4.6% when compared to this time last year.

The coal producer has a market capitalisation of around $1.6 billion, with approximately 1 billion shares outstanding.

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Motley Fool contributor Brooke Cooper has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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