Adding in the small amount of sales from the emerging Middlemount mine, total annual sales for Macarthur reached 5.32Mt – above the 4.8-5Mt guidance range and up 16% from the 4.6Mt achieved in the 2008-09 financial year.
Coal sales for the June quarter were 11% down year-on-year to 1.3Mt, but the corresponding period a year ago was a quarterly sales record as Macarthur sold down its coal stocks to non-traditional customers during the lower prices when the global financial crisis was in force.
Macarthur is the leading exporter of pulverised coal injection coal, a lower grade than coking coal but still prized by steelmakers and consequently more profitable than thermal coal.
Low volatile PCI coal sales accounted for 95% of the total sales from the Coppabella and Moorvale Joint Venture during the June quarter and 93% of the sales for the recent financial year – a big improvement from the previous year where the commodity made up 74% of coal sales.
Macarthur noted the strong demand for metallurgical coal during the past year not only increased PCI coal sales but also enabled it to sell thermal coal from its Moorvale mine as a high ash PCI product.
The Queensland company expects demand for its PCI coal to remain strong as steelmakers focus on reducing the costs of production and seaborne coke remains in short supply.
Total run-of-mine production from the Coppabella mine reached 1.08Mt for the June quarter up 39.5% from the corresponding period last year, while the mine produced 3.47Mt for the recent financial year, up 20% from the previous 12 months.
Moorvale produced 0.83Mt for the June quarter, down almost 5% year-on-year, as the mine focused on producing more PCI coal as opposed to thermal coal.
Total production for mine reached 2.91Mt for the recent financial year, roughly in line with the previous 12 months.
The coal handling and preparation plant for the Middlemount mine remains underway with completion expected within the next couple of months.
The Middlemount Early Rail Alliance is busy seeking approvals for a dedicated rail line and rail loop to the mine.
Importantly, Macarthur said no objections against the development were made during the recent public exhibition and notification period.
Construction of the rail loop is expected to finish in the second half of 2011.
On the exploration front, Macarthur was operating five rigs during the recent quarter with most of the work focusing on its Wilunga project and assisting the completion of the Environmental Impact Statement for Middlemount.
Macarthur expects the scheduled maintenance and commissioning work on Queensland’s coal chain to reduce coal throughput – especially for this month.
The company also appointed Graham Yerbury as chief financial officer to start in September.
He holds senior management experience in coal, oil and gas sectors and was most recently the CFO for Arrow Energy.
Macarthur shares are up 8c this morning to $13.00.