Whitehaven Coal has maintained a shaken but steadying business through the March quarter after being impacted by low seaborne coal prices and transport disruptions.
While the company’s run-of-mine (ROM) quarterly production was up 12 per cent to 5.5 million tonnes on the previous corresponding period, its guidance for production and costs took a hit.
Whitehaven’s ROM production guidance for the 2021 fiscal year fell from 21.4-22 million to 20.6-21.4 million tonnes.
The updated unit cost guidance rose by 5 per cent from $69-72 to $73-75.
Whitehaven managing director and chief executive officer Paul Flynn understood the position his company was in.
“(The third quarter of the 2021 financial year) has been a mixed bag from an operational perspective and in having to address a number of logistical challenges,” Flynn said.
“Pleasingly, we are seeing much improved and more consistent performance from our largest operations at Maules Creek, notwithstanding adverse weather in recent weeks.
“Offsetting this progress to some extent has been the geological challenges encountered at the Narrabri underground which has impacted production.”
Whitehaven lost hundreds of thousands of tonnes of production at the Narrabri mine in New South Wales last December due to a geological fault in the rock face.
This has led to unscheduled downtime and equipment repairs.
“Coal prices have continued to improve over the quarter, responding to increased economic activity as well as supply constraints,” Flynn said.
“Disappointingly, we have had to revise down our (2021 fiscal year) production, sales and unit cost guidance due to the ongoing geological challenges at our underground mine, Narrabri.”
While industry prospects have remained positive, Whitehaven continued to deal with its range of extenuating circumstances.
On the bright side for Australia’s leading independent coal producer, the company was free from any traces of COVID-19 and its operations remain largely unaffected by the virus.