New cost hopes

AFTER non-regular items, New Hope Group reported a net loss after tax for the 2014-15 financial year.
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The north pit at New Hope's Acland mine.

Noel Dyson

Without those non-regular items the company would have reported a net profit after tax of $51.7 million – up 25% on the $41.5 million it recorded in the 2014 fiscal.

Those non-regular items included:

  • $36 million impairment of oil producing assets
  • $4.2 million impairment of goodwill associated with oil producing assets
  • $17 million impairment of New Hope’s coal to liquids facility due to a lack of immediate commercial applications
  • $17.6 million impairment of held for sale shares in IGas and Planet Gas due to prolonged depreciation in share value
  • $1.2 million profit on the disposal of Dart Energy.

The company plans to continue its operational efficiency focus that delivered cost improvements at both New Acland and West Moreton. Free on rail costs at New Acland were reduced by more than 9% during the year while costs at West Moreton went down more than 15% year on year.

“We have reduced costs significantly during FY2015 while continuing to improve safety across all operations,” New Hope managing director Shane Stephan said.

“The benefits of our ongoing focus on efficient production can also be seen in the company’s strong operating cash flow generation, which grew by $24.1 million to $88.5 million in FY2015, an increase of more than 37%.

“We have maintained the financial capacity to take advantage of prevailing market conditions and are actively reviewing asset acquisition opportunities.

“We are interested in projects where we can draw on our existing operational expertise and add additional coal production capacity.”

Stephan said market conditions remained challenging.

“A recovery in global coal prices is likely to be gradual and is still some time away,” he said.

“However, the longer term outlook for coal – particularly high quality Australian coal – remains positive.

“In this environment, New Hope’s operational strength and capacity to fund acquisitions positions the company well for the future.”

New Hope’s mining operations produced 5.7 million tonnes of clean coal during the fiscal, up 2% on the previous year’s total production of 5.6Mt.

Sales for FY2015 were 5.8 Mt, down 3% on the 6Mt sold in FY2014.

New Hope’s Queensland Bulk Handling terminal at the Port of Brisbane exported 7.1Mt of coal on 89 vessels in FY2015.

This was down about 770,000t from FY2014, largely due to the closure of Peabody’s Wilkie Creek mine and the resulting reduction in throughput.

Operational costs at QBH were reduced during FY2015.

Acland Pastoral’s five-year development plan went ahead with about 42km of fencing, 10 water troughs and two water storage tanks built during 2015.

Cattle trials on rehabilitated land continue to deliver positive results and the trials will continue in FY2016.

Coal and cattle aside, New Hope also has Bridgeport Energy which produced 158,883 barrels of oil during the fiscal.

That was up 36% on FY2014, however, significantly lower oil prices meant sales revenue fell 19% from $14.6 million that year to $11.6 million in FY2015.

Again the cost cutting knives came out and Bridgeport managed to achieve a 10% decrease in operating expenditure for the second half of the financial year.