Macarthur expands development and thermal coal sales

MACARTHUR Coal remains focused on the thermal coal market, with the global steel slump slashing metallurgical coal sales in the first three months of the year, while advancing the Moorvale Underground and Middlemount projects.

Blair Price

Total coal sales dived to 817,900 tonnes, 15.3% lower than the 2008 March quarter, but the leading pulverised coal injection coal producer plans to exceed its 3.9 million tonne sales target for this financial year by increasing its thermal coal trade.


However, Macarthur noted the spot price had weakened as more metallurgical coal was sold into thermal coal markets and the margins of these sales were lower than those of PCI coal.


In operational activity, March quarter run-of-mine coal production at the company’s 73.3%-owned Coppabella and Moorvale mines in Queensland’s Bowen Basin was 601,500 tonnes and 735,800t respectively, well above the corresponding quarter of 2008 which was compromised by flooding.


As the extension to the current operation, Macarthur’s current mine plan for the Moorvale Underground project will have two continuous miners producing an average of 1.13Mt per annum of ROM coal.


“The mining horizon is planned to include the high-quality lower working section and some of the middle working section, while leaving an immediate coal roof,” Macarthur said.


The underground project has 1Mt of proved reserves and 13.6Mt of probable reserves.


In another expansion of the Moorvale operation, the Queensland state government has notified Macarthur that the Olive Downs North mining leases ML 70354 and ML 70355 will be granted for 21 years starting in May.


Macarthur said developing Olive Downs North would cost about $A20 million and it would be operated as a satellite pit to the Moorvale operation using its coal handling and processing plant.


In the first three months of this year, Macarthur spent $1.9 million on exploration of its Middlemount project in the Bowen Basin.


Four drill rigs were used in the project area, which has open cut coal mining reserves totalling 56.9Mt, consisting of 28.5Mt of proved reserves and 28.4Mt of probable reserves.


Macarthur shares closed yesterday up 1c to $3.92.

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