Whitehaven Coal is set to rail first coal from its Maules Creek mine in January 2015, two months ahead of schedule.
The company said a strong performance by the company’s construction team and contractors working at the mine had led to the revised production timeline.
Whitehaven’s chief Paul Flynn said everyone working on the construction of Maules Creek should be commended.
Flynn used the company’s annual general meeting last week to blast what he called FIFO protestors who have been working to stall the project’s development.
“At some point they are going to have to accept the umpire’s decision and move on,” he told shareholders.
Whitehaven chairman Mark Vaile also took aim at activists, saying they did not represent local interests.
“While the ‘fly in fly out’ protesters — funded by major offshore activists groups — have generated a fair amount of noise, Whitehaven has worked assiduously to involve the local townships of Narrabri, Gunnedah and Boggabri in this project,” Vaile said.
Vaile said critics of the fossil fuel industry failed to realise its importance in how modern society operates.
“We in the developed world have relied on coal to produce the products we take for granted,” he said.
“Cars, mobile phones, homes, power to heat our homes … It is not for us … to deny people in developing nations access to affordable energy sources, which are a key to eliminating poverty.”
Despite challenging coal market conditions, Whitehaven was bullish about the demand for its product.
“Whitehaven’s coal is clean and high in energy with low trace elements, low ash, low sulphur and low phosphorous,” Vaile said.
“Global demand for coal in absolute tonnage terms continues to rise steadily.”