Surging thermal coal sector boosts Whitehaven

Maules Creek. Image: Whitehaven Coal.

Whitehaven Coal is well placed to deliver record fiscal performance in the 2018 financial year as thermal coal prices have reached seven-year highs.

The company is experiencing increased demand for its high-quality thermal coal this year, a continuation of the improving conditions of 2017.

Whitehaven, which today released its June update, exported 17,365t of product from its operations in the 2018 financial year, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.

The Maules Creek mine in New South Wales has been a standout for the company, achieving a three-month production record of 2.931Mt in the June quarter.

For the full year, output at Maules Creek was 10.953Mt, up 13 per cent on the previous year.

Maules Creek, which receives a premium on the benchmark thermal coal price, achieved a spot price of $US121/t during the June quarter.

Whitehaven managing director and chief executive Paul Flynn said with thermal coal pricing at seven-year highs, and against the backdrop of continuing strong demand, the company remained on track for a record set of financials.

“The period has seen a record production result for Maules Creek and continued strong performance of the Gunnedah open cuts, which has helped achieve sales within the guidance range,” Flynn said.

Whitehaven is also on course to ramp up production at Maules Creek to 13Mt/y in the 2020 financial year. It has received all of the equipment needed for this upgrade at the operation.

The company added that global demand for thermal coal continued to grow in the first half of 2018.

“The appetite for high quality coal in the Asian region continues to grow, with India and China leading demand. Coal demand in the EU, meanwhile, continues its slow decline,” the company stated in the update.

“China has surprised many commentators with year-on-year power demand increasing by 8.5 per cent in the first five months of the calendar year.”

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