New Hope ups coal production with Bengalla expansion

New Hope Group produced 40 per cent more coal during the quarter ending April against a year ago after twice increasing its stake in the Bengalla joint venture (JV) in New South Wales.

The company’s production increased from 2.1 million tonnes of coal in last year’s quarter to 2.9 million tonnes this year, when New Hope’s Queensland output only moved up by one per cent.

In late March, New Hope acquired a further 10 per cent of Bengalla to a final interest of 80 per cent for $215 million, following the previous increase from 40 to 70 per cent in December 2018.

The Queensland-headquartered group sold 61 per cent more coal to 3.1 million tonnes during the quarter.

“New Hope’s share of coal produced at Bengalla during the quarter was 1.7 million tonnes, 90 per cent above the prior corresponding period,” the company stated in its quarterly report.

“The site increased its truck fleet numbers during the quarter, which will assist on its plans to increase throughput capacity in the short term.

“Through debottlenecking and incremental expansion, the Bengalla operation is now producing at an annualised rate of approximately 10 million tonnes of saleable coal.”

New Hope shares its Bengalla interest with JV partner Taipower (20 per cent) following Wesfarmers’ exit.

The company is also in the process of amending its environmental authority (EA) for the New Acland coal mine expansion project, following the eventual approval of the Queensland Coordinator-General in February.

New Hope will still need to secure mining leases, an associated water licence and a number of secondary approvals before mining activity can commence.

The company expects stage three of New Acland to increase yearly production to 7.5 million tonnes and generate $7 billion in economic activity over the expected 14-year life of the project.

New Hope operations in Queensland are slowing down, with the West Pit continually impacted by noise constraints and mining in Jeebropilly scheduled to be complete by 2019.

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