Record for Mandalong

MANDALONG has achieved a record annual production of 4.88 million tonnes, with Centennial Coal aiming to further lift output from the longwall mine in the Newcastle coal field this financial year.

Blair Price

Centennial said Mandalong’s record run was in line with its upgraded production guidance issued in December and was achieved with two longwall changeovers, compared to only one longwall changeover in the mine’s previous record year.

Production restarted at Mandalong’s Longwall 8 panel in late May after the successful changeover from Longwall 7.

“The next longwall changeover is scheduled around mid-year, meaning that Mandalong will only have one changeover in the 2010 financial year,” Centennial said.

“Consequently, Mandalong is targeting production of 5.4Mt for the forthcoming year.”

While the bulk of the company’s production is for the domestic thermal coal market, Centennial is aiming for the mine to start exporting in the June quarter of 2010.

To meet this goal, various projects are underway for completion in the first half of 2010, including the construction of a new haul road to link Mandalong to Newstan’s export facilities and modifications to the Cooranbong coal handling plant.

Group production and sales

Total run-of-mine production for Centennial’s underground and open cut operations came to 15Mt for the 2008-09 financial year, including 3.2Mt in the June quarter.

The June quarter performance was 27% down from the March quarter and 11% lower year-on-year.

Centennial said the drop-off was due to the Mandalong longwall changeover, its Springvale longwall mine entering a changeover period towards the end of the quarter and the end of longwall operations at Newstan in mid-April.

June quarter sales dipped with production, reaching 3.3Mt, 17% down on-quarter and 19% lower year-on-year.

Mine activities

Centennial’s 50%-owned Angus Place longwall mine set a monthly production record of 372,000 tonnes in June and produced 988,000t in the quarter.

Despite the mine getting its best results from the current block and improving on a lacklustre March quarter, Centennial said Angus Place was continuing to experience equipment-related issues that were limiting its full productive potential.

“These equipment-related issues are being progressively dealt with by mine management through a process improvement program designed to tighten up the operating parameters of the new longwall, in particular the operating consistency of the longwall pan line,” the company said.

“By the end of the June 2009 quarter, some automation had been reintroduced in the form of shearer-initiated longwall support advance.”

Springvale produced 772,000t in the June quarter, down on-quarter and on-year, with Centennial saying this was because the operation had had to negotiate poor geology ahead of the longwall take-off point in advance of a changeover.

But when including the Lamberts Gully open cut, Springvale produced a record 3.66Mt for the financial year, beating the previous year by 14%, showing that the move to become a 24-7 operation in late 2008 has paid off.

Accordingly, Springvale had record sales of 3.69Mt for the financial year, with 1.28Mt making its way into the export market.

Centennial’s 95%-owned Charbon mine produced 1.23Mt from underground and open cut operations for the year.

The company said the mine’s record saleable production of 1Mt and sales of 992,000t were achieved through better horizon control in the mining process and ongoing improvements in recovery from the coal handling and preparation plant.

Pillar extraction restarted underground during the June quarter following two months of development to ready the 904 panel.

The development activity meant only 287,000 ROM tonnes were produced from Charbon in the quarter.

Centennial’s 85%-owned Clarence operation produced 474,000t in the June quarter, an 11% improvement on-quarter.

The company said Clarence’s total ROM production of 1.94Mt for the financial year was an annual record for the mine since it reopened in 1998 and 18% higher than the year previous.

Sales lifted 20% from the previous financial year to 1.88Mt.

Centennial credited Clarence’s improvement to a process of regular reviews that had increased operational efficiencies and infrastructure availability.

The company is also planning to introduce a Joy flexible conveyor train in the middle of the current financial year.

“Once fully commissioned, the FCT is expected to deliver approximately 300,000t of additional export coal,” Centennial said.

“The past 12 months have also seen the construction and commissioning of a belt filter press in the coal handling and preparation plant and upgrading of Clarence’s rail and train loading facilities.”

Shares in Centennial are up A11c to $2.84 this morning.

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