Carb Downs a drag on Vale production, profitability

VALE’S Carborough Downs longwall coal mine in Queensland continues to reduce its coal total production despite the Brazilian giant achieving record production in its Moatize mine in Mozambique.

Lou Caruana

Adjusted EBITDA for the Australian coal operations was also negative $US191 million in 2014 against negative $98 million in 2013.

Vale’s total production amounted to 8.6 million tonnes in 2014, 0.1Mt lower than in 2013, despite the record production at Moatize of 4.9Mt in 2014, 1.1Mt higher than in 2013.

“The decrease in production is mainly a result of the worsened performance of Carborough Downs and the stoppage of the Integra and Isaac Plains coal mines which were put into care and maintenance in 2Q14 and 3Q14, respectively,” Vale said.

The decision to place Integra and Isaac Plains operations under care and maintenance led to one-off costs of $48 million, related to workforce and contract terminations, among others.

“On the other hand, the decision has avoided the expenditure of $150 million in sustaining capital from 2H14,” Vale said.

Both operations are now fully transitioned to care and maintenance, with an expected impact in other operating expenses of $19 million in 2015, compared with the costs of $327 million incurred in 2014.

Australian costs net of depreciation totalled $517 million in 2014. Excluding the effects of lower volumes, costs showed an increase of $9 million when compared to 2013, mainly as a result of the non-recurring costs for placing Integra and Isaac Plains into care and maintenance.

Adjusted EBITDA for Vale’s entire coal business was negative $669 million in 2014 against negative $455 million in 2013.

Gross revenues from the sales of coal products in 2014 were $739 million, lower than in 2013 mainly due to lower sales prices of metallurgical coal, Vale said.

Metallurgical coal sales volumes decreased by 13.9%, reaching 6.330Mt in 2014 compared to 7.353Mt in 2013.

Coal costs net of depreciation totalled $1.071 billion in 2014, a decrease of $76 million when compared to 2013.

“In December 2014, we entered into an investment agreement with Mitsui, through which we will reduce our participation in the Moatize mine to 81% from 95%, and in the Nacala Logistic Corridor to approximately 35%, upon completion of the transaction,” Vale said.

“The deal will allow us to reduce our direct investment needs in both projects and receive cash back from our investments, the amount being subject to the size of a project finance, which is under discussion.”