Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine 70 per cent complete

Whitehaven Coal has smashed first quarter production by 30 per cent and is on track to deliver the Maules Creek coal mine.

In the three months to September 30, Whitehaven produced 3.5 million tonnes of coal, a 30 per cent increase on the previous period.

The company produced 3.288 million tonnes of saleable coal, a jump of 40 per cent on last year.

Whitehaven said it achieved an average price of $US89 a tonne for its metallurgical coal in the September quarter and expects the price to remain between $US89-90 a tonne.

For thermal coal, Whitehaven received an average price of $US68 a tonne for the quarter.

The company said there were continuing signs that the thermal coal market is “working through an adjustment phase” towards a “more sustainable growth path”.

“The seaborne market fundamentals are in a state of moderate oversupply and there is emerging uncertainty around the future Chinese import conditions,” Whitehaven said.

“At current price levels it is reasonable to expect there will be more supply rationalisation in key seaborne supply regions, and as these fundamental changes work through the market, thermal coal prices should gradually improve.”

The company said recent import taxes imposed by China on both coking and thermal coal would not have a heavy impact on Whitehaven which produces low ash thermal coal.

China is not a significant market for the company as sales in FY2014 by Whitehaven to China represented about 7% of the total sales.

Narrabri mine was a winner for the company, with the implementation of upgraded control systems, software and full shearer automation leading to a 59 per cent increase in saleable coal production.

During the quarter the mine also set a record of 6,158 metres for main road and gate development that the company says ensures Narrabri increases its positive development floast for the fifth longwal panel.

The company will also look to extend the longwall by an extra 400 metres.

“These underground development and longwall production results achieved in recent months arguably place Narrabri in the top three longwall mines in the country for both longwall and development productivity,” Whitehaven said.

Narrabri mine is expected to produce in excess 6.5Mt ROM coal for the financial year.

Meanwhile, construction activity at Maules Creek mine is on track, with the project 68 per cent complete.

First coal is expected in the March 2015 quarter.

Image: ABC

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