The company had also reduced costs, returned to profitability in the second half and established a new debt facility on more favourable terms, he said.
“Despite the difficult market conditions at present, shareholders have reason to be upbeat about Whitehaven’s prospects over the short to medium term,” he said.
“With Narrabri performing strongly and Maules Creek now declared commercial, increasing production and cash flows in the coming months and years will make Whitehaven one of Australia’s largest, and lowest-cost, producers of high quality coal.”
At Narrabri, several production records have been broken during the year and it is becoming one of the most productive and efficient underground longwall mines in Australia, Vaile said.
“Supported by our open-cut operations, we are well-placed to achieve our longstanding target of 23 million tonnes per annum by FY2018,” he said.
The global shift to cleaner, more efficient coal is underway and irreversible, according to Vaile.
“Governments, including China, requiring their industries to source higher-energy, higher-quality, cleaner coal,” he said.
“This plays to the strengths of the Australian industry generally, and to Whitehaven in particular.
“Whitehaven already produces a high-quality thermal product with low levels of ash, sulphur, phosphorous and other trace elements.
“Maules Creek will increase the proportion of higher-value PCI coal and semi-soft coking coal we sell, giving us diversification in product exposure and enhanced flexibility in global markets.”