Whitehaven sets new records

WHITEHAVEN Coal shares ended up down more than 6% yesterday even though the Gunnedah Basin miner posted record full year and quarterly saleable coal production. The Narrabri longwall mine also hit record production of 7.7 million tonnes run of mine.
Whitehaven sets new records Whitehaven sets new records Whitehaven sets new records Whitehaven sets new records Whitehaven sets new records

The shearer at Whitehaven Coal's Narrabri longwall mine in New South Wales.

Blair Price

Whitehaven’s managed saleable coal production was 4.76Mt for the June quarter, up 66% year-on-year, and 14.56Mt for the recent financial year which was a 41% improvement from the previous year.

Managed total coal sales were also up 46% YoY to 4.25Mt in the June quarter while managed ROM production was up 44% year on year to 5.46Mt.

Looking purely at Whitehaven’s stakes of the various mines, the equity ROM coal production was up 36% YoY to 4.15Mt in the June quarter while total equity coal sales were 37% higher to 3.25Mt.

While the open cut mine has been producing coal since last year, on July 1 Maules Creek was officially declared commercial.

The young mine hit the 6Mt per annum capacity rate during the recent quarter and is on track to ramp up to 8.5Mtpa by the end of 2015 through a boosted fleet while a full ramp up will target 13Mtpa.

“One of the large EX8000 excavators and two of the four ultra class trucks required for the next ramp up phase have already been delivered to site and are in the process of being assembled ahead of schedule,” Whitehaven said.

The new coal handling and processing plant has also exceeded expectations.

“Ash levels in the resultant product are significantly lower than Newcastle benchmark requirements for the coal seams that have been washed,” Whitehaven said.

“This is a positive start for plant and mine and will ensure that thermal coal leaving the site meets or exceeds the requirements of premium Asian coal markets and will give Whitehaven the ability to position its products differentially in the market.”

Narrabri

The Narrabri longwall mine continues to impress with its new record of 7.7Mt ROM for the recent financial year being 36% higher than the previous year.

“The mine produced a record 321,000 tonnes in the final week of June and 971kt for the month,” Whitehaven said.

“Strong performance in June followed an equally impressive performance for May in which the mine produced 941,000t.”

While production will slow due to a longwall changeout in the September quarter, an important verdict will also be made at this time.

“The final decision on moving to the 400m wide panels at the mine is likely to be taken during the September quarter although development of LW07 has commenced catering for the wider face,” Whitehaven said.

Although the coal company has an enviable performance record its revised coal price expectations evidently had some impacts on its share price yesterday.

The recent 15% fall in the hard coking coal benchmark led Whitehaven to forecast its metallurgical coal prices to slip from the $US75.90 a tonne achieved in the June quarter to $70-75/t in the underway quarter.

Most of the company’s coal sales are of thermal coal, with Whitehaven landing an average of $60.72/t for its exported thermal coal, slightly higher than the $59.57/t June quarter Newcastle index average price for that period.

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