Peabody Energy, the world's biggest listed coal producer by output, said it is close to signing a deal to develop a mine in China next year, the Wall Street Journal reported. The US company is looking for a Chinese partner to develop an open-pit coal mine that can produce about 50 million tons of coal a year. Its chairman and chief executive Gregory Boyce said top local mining company China Shenhua Energy and utility Huaneng Power International are potential partners in China and abroad. Shenhua and Peabody have a memorandum of understanding, signed last year, to look at possible joint projects, and could invest together in Mongolia or Australia. Peabody has a 6% stake in a US$1 billion Huaneng power plant in Tianjin that will capture and store the carbon dioxide it emits, due for completion in 2009.