The company agreed to supply its coking coal (including hard and semi-hard coking coal) at prices about 15% less than last year while its PCI contracts have settled about 35% lower. Wesfarmers said it was satisfied with the outcome, which is broadly in line with earlier settlements reached by other coal producers.
The Curragh mine produced 1.5 million tonnes of coking coal, 14% better than a year ago, and 2.3Mt of steam coal during the quarter, a 5.4% increase. Performance of the upgraded coal handling and preparation plant continues to improve but delays with completion of a third rail dump station, of four to six months, will constrain output. The company expects to sell around 6.2Mt of export metallurgical coal from Curragh in 2005-06, about 35% more than last year but less than projected figures.
Development of the Curragh North mine is 50% complete with the current focus on the materials handling construction.
Rail system constraints, coupled with port constraints, are expected to dampen production and sales levels. “As we have always said, projected outputs from Curragh are reliant on satisfactory mine, rail and shipment performance,” company managing director David Robb said.
At the Premier mine in Western Australia, steam coal production was 936,000t, 6% lower than the previous quarter but overburden was 13% better, due to increased shovel productivity.
Wesfarmer’s 40%-owned Bengalla steam coal mine produced 435,000t during the quarter, 24% down on last year.
Operations during the quarter concentrated on completing the final seams of a strip located near the pit floor, prior to moving onto the next strip.