Approximately 13% of calendar time was lost to rain during the quarter, leading the company to revise its full year production and sales expectation to 25-26 million tonnes, depending on coal chain performance and more favourable weather patterns.
Despite lower than expected production, overall Coal & Allied has continued to target increased overburden removal as part of its plans to increase the Hunter Valley operations and Mount Thorley Warkworth mines to full capacity.
Total overburden movement in the September quarter was 7% higher than both the prior quarter and the corresponding period in 2009.
This activity is being supported by additional equipment that was progressively commissioned during the quarter.
In the short term this additional overburden is driving higher strip ratios, with Coal & Allied’s attributable strip ratio for the year to date 16% higher than in the nine months ended September 2009.
Semi-soft production fell by 53% from both the prior quarter and the September 2009 quarter to represent 15% of attributable production.
This reduction was primarily due to the timing of coal seam presentation in the mining sequence being biased towards thermal coal during the quarter.
Hunter Valley Operations’ saleable coal production was 1% lower than the previous quarter and 7% lower than last year.
Production was impacted in the quarter by continuing wet weather that heavily impacted waste removal, and also the annual two-week shutdown of the coal preparation plant that took place in September.
Mount Thorley Warkworth’s saleable coal production was 14% lower than the previous quarter, and 24% lower than the corresponding quarter last year. The nature of the seams currently being mined are relatively thin with relatively high levels of overburden.
Bengalla’s saleable production was 25% lower than the previous quarter, and 24% lower than the corresponding quarter last year.
Bengalla’s production this quarter was impacted by less favourable coal seam sequencing.
Overall, Coal & Allied spent $1.6 million on exploration and evaluation-related activities during the quarter.
This included the start of the feasibility study into the Mount Pleasant project located next to the Bengalla mine.
Coal & Allied’s shares were up by 25c to $111.89c in afternoon trade.