Whitehaven to ramp up ‘larger’ New South Wales mines

Image: Whitehaven Coal

Whitehaven Coal chairman Mark Vaile has talked up two significant, near-term assets that will underpin the company’s growth – Vickery in New South Wales and Winchester South in Queensland.

The projects will move Whitehaven’s saleable coal production towards 40 million tonnes a year over the next 10 or so years, Vaile said at the company’s annual general meeting.

Whitehaven completed mining at its Rocglen project at the end of the 2019 financial year, with the last coal also recently mined at Sunnyside. Both sites are located near Gunnedah in New South Wales.

The company is executing moves to shift away from smaller operations and instead ramp up at larger sites, Vaile said.

“Whitehaven is positively differentiated from a number of our key competitors, increasing our total production at a time of ongoing tightness in the higher energy-content coal market and given the relative scarcity of metallurgical coal globally,” Vaile said.

“Regulatory barriers and a more uncertain investment environment will continue to impact supply, with associated impacts on price. And we are well-positioned to continue to take advantage of these dynamics.”

Whitehaven has set its sights on market opportunities in India, which accounted for 40 per cent of its metallurgical coal sales this year.

Internally, the company also plans to invest in autonomous haulage and expansion at the Maules Creek mine in Gunnedah.

Its autonomous haulage system trial began at the site during the 2019 financial year, with the first fleet of haulage trucks scheduled to start operation early in 2020.

The company’s board has also approved an expansion at the Tarrawonga mine in Boggabri, which is expected to increase production to three million tonnes a year of run-of-mine coal next year.

Its equipment for the expansion has arrived at the mine, following Whitehaven’s plans to offset most of the decline in saleable coal from Rocglen and Sunnyside.

Whitehaven started the process of obtaining approval for the Narrabri stage three project in Baan Baa earlier in February.

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