Whitehaven profit up

INCREASED coal sales and the off-loading of a slice of its Narrabri coal project in New South Wales boosted coal miner Whitehaven Coal’s profits by 142% up to $A51.9 million.

Vivienne Ryan

A large chunk of the profit, $38.9 million, came from the 7.5% sale of the Narrabri project to China’s Yudean Group.

Earlier this month Whitehaven also accepted offers from Japanese energy company Electric Power Development and European electricity trader EDF Trading for each company to acquire a 7.5% stake in the Narrabri project.

Coal sales for the company also helped the profit hike and were up 91% from the previous year, to 2.8 million tonnes.

Whitehaven recently settled new coal sales contracts for the 2009 financial year for an average of $250 per tonne of semi-soft coking coal and pulverised coal injection coal for the next three years and $135/t for thermal coal.

Whitehaven’s Rocglen opencut project was granted a mining lease in June this year, followed by mining in July with first coal expected later this year.

Throughout the year the company increased its JORC coal resources by 77.6Mt to 712.9Mt, with coal reserves also jumping by 19.9Mt to 137.9Mt.

Narrabri's mining lease for Stage 1 of the project was granted in January this year with construction commencing shortly thereafter.

The company said it was on track to produce its first coal in the second half of 2009.

Whitehaven was trading up 2.12% this morning at $3.85.