Whitehaven Coal has reduced its production guidance again, with mixed results across its New South Wales operations presenting a cumulative negative effect.
Dropping from 20.6-21.4 million tonnes down to 20.4 million tonnes on the 2021 financial year, this production guidance revision is Whitehaven’s fourth of the year.
A reduction at Narrabri, 500 kilometres north-west of Sydney, was caused by an “acceleration of engineering works to support the longwall operation,” according to a Whitehaven statement.
An undisclosed geological event also affected Narrabri’s uptime, leaving the mine’s expected production at 4.1 million tonnes for the 2021 financial year.
However, it wasn’t all bad news for Whitehaven as the Maules Creek mine, near Narrabri, managed higher production than expected this year to-date.
The open cut thermal coal mine is expected to produce 12.5 million tonnes for this financial year, combining with the nearby Gunnedah operation for 16.3 million tonnes.
These results were foreshadowed by managing director and chief executive Paul Flynn in April, when Whitehaven last provided an update.
“Pleasingly, we are seeing much improved and more consistent performance from our largest operation at Maules Creek,” Flynn said in April.
Whitehaven also has the Vickery project extension to look forward to, after the Federal Court threw out a claim against Whitehaven that Vickery’s approval would jeopardise the future of young people.
In response, Whitehaven doubled down on its position that thermal coal will continue to hold an important place in the Australian resources sector.
“The company sees a continuing role for high-quality coal in contributing to global CO2 emissions-reduction efforts while simultaneously supporting economic development in our region,” Whitehaven said in a media release.
This stance was backed by a recent report by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) which focused on the quality of Australian coal compared to its biggest competitors in Indonesia.
“The report notes the higher specific energy (SE) of Australian coal at 25 megajoules per kilogram (MJ/kg) compared to Indonesian coal at 19.4MJ/kg…enabling less coal to be burnt per kilowatt hour of power station output and lower levels of CO2 emissions than from lower-quality coals,” the report stated.
“These quality features are important in sustaining demand for Australian thermal coal while supporting jobs and investment – especially in regional New South Wales and Queensland – and better environmental and emissions outcomes for end users.”