Wesfarmers' draglines back in action

DESPITE lower thermal coal demand and wet weather, Wesfarmers managed to increase total coal production during the June quarter, partly due to overcoming difficulties with key draglines.
Wesfarmers' draglines back in action Wesfarmers' draglines back in action Wesfarmers' draglines back in action Wesfarmers' draglines back in action Wesfarmers' draglines back in action

Curragh's conveyor belt.

Blair Price

At its wholly owned Curragh mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, Wesfarmers said overburden removal was 15.9% higher than in the previous quarter.

This was due to unplanned maintenance on draglines 303 and 304 in the March quarter and the return to work of dragline 302 in May.

Coal production reached 2.4 million tonnes for the June quarter, 11.4% higher than the previous quarter.

Metallurgical coal production was at 1.7Mt, 18% lower year-on-year but 17% higher on-quarter.

Wesfarmers said this boost was due to changes in the plant feed mix resulting in higher coal yield.

The company is continuing a feasibility study to expand the surface operation to hit annual export tonnages of 8-8.5Mt per annum of metallurgical coal.

Wesfarmers’ wholly owned Premier open cut thermal coal mine, near Collie in Western Australia, benefited earlier in the year from the extra demand caused by the Varanus Island gas disruption and upgrade work at the Muja power station.

However, in the June quarter there was a drop in coal demand from power company Verve Energy.

Combined with seasonal wet weather conditions, the mine produced 703,000t of thermal coal, 20.1% down on the March quarter.

Overburden removal was 17.6% lower in comparison to the previous quarter.

From its 40% stake of the Bengalla open cut mine in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, which is operated by Rio Tinto Coal Australia, Wesfarmers’ share of thermal coal production amounted to 576,000t, 28% higher than the March quarter.

Wesfarmers said this was due to operating in a more productive section of the mine sequence, but added that the March quarter was affected by wet weather.

Shares in Wesfarmers are down A34c to $24.22 this morning.

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