Expansions at New Hope’s Acland coal mine are continuing strong despite a significant drop in the value of thermal coal.
Recent benchmark prices for thermal coal have dropped 44% over the past 12 months, sparking concern from miners and key stakeholders across the globe.
New Hope general manager, Dennis Brown Kenyon, told MINING DAILY while decreasing coal values have affected the company’s overall per tonne profitability, expansion plans at New Acland have not been affected.
The $36 m development, which includes a $13 m contract for a coal washing plant and additional port and rail facilities, will boost the mine’s capacity from 4.2Mt to 4.8Mt.
According to the company, the development is part of a strategy to increase overall tonnage and production by the first quarter of 2010.
Kenyon says while current prices are down on last year’s records, it is important to note they are still double what they were in 2007.
“You’ve got to keep a bit of perspective in terms of the long-term pricing trends and movements in the coal business,” he said.
“We are debt free and well positioned to take any opportunities that might arise in the future.”
The company is also in the process of approving mining leases to increase capacity at New Acland to 10Mt for a lifespan of 50 years.