Anglo American production gains buoyed by QLD coal

Anglo American’s coal sites in Australia have helped the company achieve a 14 per cent rise in global production across its diverse operations.

The company’s South African thermal coal operations may have accounted for a slightly larger percentage of the total figure (at 7.198 million tonnes), but its Australian coal mines achieved a larger boost on the previous quarter at 35 per cent (6.08 million tonnes).

The majority of the Australian contribution came from the company’s metallurgical (coking) coal mines, led by the Capcoal mine in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, which produced nearly 1.74 million tonnes. 

Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani said the strong met coal performance was attributable to longwall moves and plant upgrade work in the previous quarter.

The Moranbah North mine, in second place with 1.6 million tonnes, was particularly notable as it represented by far the biggest quarterly leap of any of Anglo American’s mines, up 569 per cent from the 239,500 tonnes produced in the previous quarter. 

Moranbah North was shut down for nearly a week in February 2019 following the death of a miner.

Thermal (energy) coal production only accounted for 245,200 tonnes of Anglo American’s Australian output in the quarter, being much more prominent among the company’s South African operations, where it accounted for the entirety of regional output.

Internationally, the company also benefited from a strong Brazilian iron ore performance, particularly from the Minas-Rio mine in Minas Gerais, which produced 5.9 million tonnes in the quarter on the back of optimisation works carried out in 2018. 

Anglo American’s copper and platinum operations delivered small quarterly increases of one per cent and three per cent, respectively.

The higher-than-expected production at Minas Rio led to an increase in the mine’s guidance. This helped offset reductions at the Kumba iron ore operation (also Brazil) and De Beers diamond operations in Botswana, Canada and South Africa, which posted a 14 per cent drop in production to 7699 carats.

Cutifani said the company remained “broadly on track” to meet its full year production targets.

“Production is up two per cent for the quarter, due to the successful ramp-up at Minas-Rio and strong performance at Metallurgical Coal following the longwall moves and plant upgrade work in (the first quarter),” Cutifani said.

“Kumba Iron Ore continues to improve following (first quarter) production challenges. De Beers, in view of prevailing market conditions, will continue to produce to demand for the year.”

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