The loss was blamed on a strong Aussie dollar combined with the downturn in coal prices.
This result was considerably better than the $749.4 million net loss clocked up in the corresponding period of 2013.
While there was a 4% year-on-year increase to 7.9 million tonnes (equity basis) of saleable coal production, Yancoal also restructured its Australian operations in response to “market headwinds”.
“By implementing a robust business transformation project, we have achieved production efficiencies and delivered operational improvements throughout the first half, while demonstrating our ongoing commitment to transparency and compliance,” Yancoal CEO Reinhold Schmidt said.
“We are maximising yields via product optimisation and responding to new marketing opportunities for Yancoal’s existing blending strategies.”
The company is also continuing its expansion projects despite the challenging market conditions.
“In the year ahead we remain focused on improving our capital structure and asset portfolio, via the progression of our growth pipeline of brownfield projects, including the proposed expansion of the Moolarben Stage 1, Stratford and Ashton mines and development of Moolarben Stage 2,” Schmidt said.
Austar update, mine results
The overall production lift came despite the fatal wall collapse at the Austar longwall mine that claimed two lives from a development crew in mid-April.
In its half-year results Yancoal said the investigation into the incident was ongoing with development production yet to restart.
Longwall production restarted at this Hunter Valley mine in late June with the panel expected to take up to 12 months to extract.
The mine ended the first half with 460,000 tonnes run-of-mine output.
As for the other operations in New South Wales, Yancoal reported that its Moolarben open cut mine continued to perform strongly with 4.4Mt of ROM production, while the Ashton longwall mine faced challenging roof conditions and produced 1.6Mt ROM.
The Donaldson mine produced 1.2Mt ROM in line with expectations while the Gloucester Basin operations produced 1.4Mt ROM with the Stratford mine’s Bowen Road North pit exhausting its recoverable resources during the period.
In Queensland, Yancoal said the Yarrabee mine saved costs through improved stockpile management and record high overburden removal.
The mine produced 1.8Mt ROM while the Middlemount open cut operations produced 2.4MT with its productivity gains offset by “swet weather impacts”
Yancoal has forecast that its share of saleable coal production from the mines will be in the range of 16.5Mt-17Mt for this calendar year.
“Global over-supply continues to weaken export coal prices, with minimal improvements expected in the year ahead,” Yancoal said.