Whitehaven Coal’s production has been kept afloat by the Maules Creek mine in New South Wales, with the company now demonstrating the operation’s full potential.
While original run-of-mine (ROM) production guidance was set at 21–22.8 million tonnes for financial year 2021, Whitehaven managed just 20.6 million tonnes.
This owed largely to the Maules Creek open cut coal mine in New South Wales achieving record annual ROM production of 12.7 million tonnes.
The record was 18 per cent above financial year 2020’s total and well above the mine’s original guidance of 11.3 – 12 million tonnes.
Whitehaven managing director and chief executive officer Paul Flynn showed equal surprise at the Maules Creek record and at coal prices overall.
“Our largest mine, Maules Creek, finished with a solid quarter and demonstrated its full potential over the course of the year, delivering a record annual ROM production,” Flynn said.
“Coal prices staged a remarkable recovery over the quarter, responding to increased economic activity as well as continuing supply-side constraints.”
On the Vickery expansion, Whitehaven acknowledged the ongoing legal process surrounding the proposal, which seeks to more than double annual production to 10 million tonnes.
In May, the Federal Court dismissed an appeal to stop the federal Environment Minister from approving the expansion.
In a subsequent hearing, the court found the Minister had a duty of care when considering such proposals to protect the health of Australian children from carbon emissions.
Whitehaven said it expected the Minister’s final decision in the coming months and the company has continued to prepare for the expansion works.
“Importantly, this does not prevent the Minister from determining the project and indeed we note the deadline for the Minister’s decision has been extended to 30 August this year, by which time we expect a determination,” Whitehaven stated.
“There are broader potential implications of the judgement for greenhouse gas-emitting projects as a precedent and, with this is mind, we note the Minister last week signalled the federal Government’s intention to appeal the decision to the Full Federal Court, which we welcome.”
“Progress on design work for the CHPP (coal handling and preparation plant), rail spur and other site infrastructure continued during the quarter.”