Consol wraps up year, looks ahead to safety

PENNSYLVANIA producer Consol Energy’s efforts to control inventory were reflected in the company’s final quarter which was down year-on-year but officials are touting a productive and safe year ahead.
Consol wraps up year, looks ahead to safety Consol wraps up year, looks ahead to safety Consol wraps up year, looks ahead to safety Consol wraps up year, looks ahead to safety Consol wraps up year, looks ahead to safety

Underground at Consol Energy's Buchanan longwall in Virginia.

Donna Schmidt

Ahead of its fourth quarter and whole-year earnings report scheduled for later this month, the company released an operational update on Friday that reflected 14.3 million tons produced in its coal division in the quarter ended December 31.

Of that, 700,000t of low-vol coking coal came from the Buchanan mine in Virginia.

The total was down from 15.2Mt, including 1.4Mt from Buchanan, in the fourth quarter of 2011.

For the year, Consol confirmed production of 56Mt, 3.5Mt of which was from Buchanan and 100,000t from Amonate.

That figure, too, was down from 62Mt in 2011.

Officials said most of its reductions over the last year stemmed from its efforts to keep inventory in check, including moves to idle several of its mines.

On a more positive note, coal inventory decreased in the fourth quarter by 300,000t to 1.4Mt and thermal inventories dropped to 1.1Mt during the period as sales exceeded production.

Low-vol Buchanan and Amonate inventory decreased from September 30 by 200,000t to a total of 200,000t.

“Consol’s mines and gas operations ran well during the quarter," chairman and chief executive officer J Brett Harvey said.

“Substantial improvements in safety have been realized during the year and new records have been set all across the company.”

Harvey acknowledged the “tragic fatality” the company suffered in the fourth quarter, when one of its workers died in an impoundment failure in West Virginia in late November.

“For 2013, we are focusing our efforts on reducing the severity of incidents, while maintaining the pace of overall accident reduction we've achieved the past five years,” he said.

Looking ahead into the first quarter, Consol projected production of between 13.7Mt and 14.1Mt, with a whole-year outlook of 55.5Mt to 57.5Mt.

At the same time, Buchanan mine's first quarter production is expected to be between 850,000t and 950,000t.

It has set an annual production guidance estimate of 3.8-4Mt.

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