Commodities group Noble is looking to leverage its links with Yanzhou Coal Mining on more projects, after Yancoal Australia and Gloucester Coal completed a merger at the end of last month. Will Randall, Noble executive director and head of hard commodities, said Noble would back the global export expansion plans of Yanzhou, the major shareholder of Yancoal. Randall noted that Yancoal was increasing its port facilities in Australia. This included the development of a third coal export terminal in Newcastle, New South Wales, which is due to be commissioned next year, and the construction of a coal export terminal on Wiggins Island, Queensland, where coal shipments are set to begin in 2014. Hong Kong-headquartered, Singapore-listed Nobel will receive US$781 million in cash from the Yancoal-Gloucester Coal merger, according to the company's results announcement to the Singapore stock exchange yesterday. This included a special dividend of A$61 million that was received in June. The company, which holds a 13.2 per cent stake in Yancoal from the merger and Yancoal's subsequent listing, will also receive A$351 million in promissory notes guaranteed by Yancoal that are due on January 3 next year. Yancoal is also due to repay a US$361 million intercompany loan by the end of this month. These details emerged yesterday after Noble posted net profit of US$304.9 million in the first half of this year, down from US$343 million a year earlier. Revenue, however, rose 19 per cent to a record US$47.1 billion in the first half compared with the year-earlier half. The energy division, which included coal, oil and gas, was the biggest revenue-generator, contributing US$32.7 billion to total revenue this year, up from US$26 billion in the first half of last year. But the agricultural business saw revenue drop to US$7.8 billion between January and June, down 8 per cent from last year. Chief executive Yusuf Alireza said the agricultural operation was hit by rain in Brazil, which disrupted sugar crushing, and poor crushing conditions in China. He said there was "very little revenue from crushing" in Brazil in the first half, but he expected this to be made good in the second half of this year. Commenting on the impact from a drought in the United States, Alireza said Noble's agricultural businesses were focused in "South America and elsewhere" and Noble "can benefit from higher prices". The metals, minerals and ores division posted a 26 per cent rise in revenue to US$6.5 billion, buoyed by a 7 per cent increase in tonnage and price in the aluminium business.