The Keaton turnaround

JOHANNESBURG Stock Exchange-listed coal miner Keaton Energy has grown its group revenue by 70% to 710 million South African rand ($A74 million) in the first half of the 2013-14 year.

Noel Dyson

It has booked a $42 million net profit on the back of that revenue, 164% up from the R64 million loss in the same period last year.

The company’s headline earnings per share of 19.4c were up 192% from a 21.1c loss last year.

It also repaid R39 million in debt.

Keaton increased its sales to South African utility Eskom by 55% to 1.1 million tonnes.

Its Vanggatfontein colliery grew its coal deliveries by 55% for the first half of the 2013-14 financial year.

The colliery delivered 1.1Mt of washed two and four-seam thermal coal to Eskom in the period, compared with 738,498t in the previous comparable half year.

The mine’s five-seam metallurgical coal sales into the domestic market grew 76% from 31,272t in the comparable half year to 55,154t at the end of September 2013.

Vanggatfontein also washed 145,785t of third party coal during the period versus nothing in the previous comparable period.

Discard and slurry sales from Vanggatfontein were 555,963t for the period compared with 174,251t in the comparable half year – an increase of 220%.

Besides bringing in revenue, it also reduced the company’s environmental footprint and rehabilitation obligations.

Keaton was able to start pit 4 from its operational cash flows, which will allow for even greater flexibility and optimisation of future mining activities.

The story was a little different at the Vaalkrantz colliery, where Keaton continued to face challenging geological conditions and labour disruptions.

Even so, it managed to increase the amount of anthracite sold by 2% to 154,145t.

Keaton’s capital investment for the period was R143 million, compared to R71 million for the previous corresponding period.

The majority of that capital, R135 million, was spent at Vanggatfontein, mostly on ongoing mine development.

Cash generated from operations was R205 million, offset by the R143 million capital spend and R39 million debt repayment.

Keaton expects to close its acquisition of Xceed Resources by the end of February.

It plans to start production at Xceed’s Moabsvelden project in 2015.

The project is expected to produce both export and Eskom-quality thermal coal.

“Our longer term strategy of becoming a 5 million tonne per annum producer remains our focus,” Keaton CEO Mandi Glad said.

“With Vanggatfontein having achieved steady state it now forms a solid foundation from which we can maximise cash generation and expand and diversify our product mix.”