Production dives for Wesfarmers

WESFARMERS stitched up deals with Western Australian government-owned Verve Energy to be its sole supplier of thermal coal, but lower demand from the utility cut production from the Premier mine by 12% year-on-year for the June quarter.
Production dives for Wesfarmers Production dives for Wesfarmers Production dives for Wesfarmers Production dives for Wesfarmers Production dives for Wesfarmers

Courtesy Wesfarmers

Blair Price

Coal production at Wesfarmer’s wholly owned open cut mine near Collie reached 619,000 tonnes in the recent quarter, 7.6% lower than the previous quarter.


Output for the 2009-10 financial year was 2.78 million tonnes – down 17% from the 3.37Mt achieved the year before.


Premier’s overburden removal in the June quarter was also 3.6% down from the previous quarter.


In brighter news for Wesfarmers, the mine became the sole supplier to Verve Energy from July 1.


Rival Griffin Coal remains shrouded in uncertainty since going into voluntary administration in January, while reports this month suggest its debts exceed $A1 billion.


Wesfarmers also advanced exploration at the Wilga coal deposit 20 km south of Premier.


Over to Wesfarmer’s wholly owned Curragh mine in Queensland, production was affected by force majeure events earlier in the year.


Apart from the weather impacts during cyclone season, four days were lost in January when a belt holding a 20t counterweight on the overland conveyor snapped and fell, causing damage.


Metallurgical production at Curragh slipped 5% year-on-year to 1.61Mt for the June quarter.


For the recent financial year the met coal output reached 6.61Mt – a fall of 1.5% from the previous year.


Thermal coal production for the June quarter was down 3.1% year-on-year to 686,000t.


For 2009-10 the total was 2.47Mt and 15.6% lower than the previous year.


Drilling work at the Curragh and Curragh North pits consisted of 142 chip holes and 14 core holes to boost infill structural definition.


Wesfarmers also owns 40% of the Bengalla mine in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, where the company’s share of thermal coal production rose 2.6% year-on-year for the June quarter to 591,000t.


But this amount was also a 20% improvement on the March quarter as the operation mined a more productive sequence.


The annual production to the end of June reached 2.24Mt – up 6.6% from the previous year.


A feasibility study to lift the mine from run-of-mine output of 8.7Mt per annum to 10.7Mtpa remains underway.


Wesfarmers shares closed up 2.5% to $31.13 yesterday.

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