Mandalong shines prior to Banpu takeover

CENTENNIAL Coal’s wholly owned Mandalong longwall operation hit 5.49 million tonnes of run-of-mine production for the recent financial year – a new production record.
Mandalong shines prior to Banpu takeover Mandalong shines prior to Banpu takeover Mandalong shines prior to Banpu takeover Mandalong shines prior to Banpu takeover Mandalong shines prior to Banpu takeover

Courtesy Centennial Coal.

Blair Price

The thermal coal producer’s share of ROM production from its portfolio of mines in New South Wales reached 3.6Mt in the recent quarter – up 14% on both the previous quarter and the prior corresponding period.

Production at Mandalong was 13% higher than the previous year, but Centennial noted there was only one longwall changeover during 2009-10 while the mine is typically subject to a changeover every 8-9 months.

Mandalong also established a new monthly production record of 690,000 tonnes in May plus a weekly production record of 172,000t in the same month.

While impressive, these rates are still considerably under the national longwall records set by Xstrata’s Oaky Creek North mine last year which hit 1.19Mt of ROM output for the month of August and also set a weekly record of 324,071t ROM.

Drilling is also underway in the Mandalong South area which will be an extension to the existing operation.

Five holes are complete with another 45 planned.

Centennial’s half-owned Angus Place longwall mine produced 980,000 tonnes of ROM output in the June quarter, while its half-owned Springvale longwall mine reached 383,000t ROM production.

Angus Place is progressing through difficult conditions as it cuts through the Wolgan Zone.

Centennial said it was pleasing to see the longwall achieving consistent results after recent adjustments, including pan-line modifications, the introduction of Joy’s 7LS shearer and relay bar modifications.

The mine completed a longwall changeover in early April and another one is not scheduled until the September quarter of 2011.

The Springvale longwall restarted in mid-May after a mid-block changeover or “step-around” for panel LW413.

Centennial previously encountered “adverse ground conditions” during the development of the panel.

The full changeover from this panel to LW414 is expected in December.

Springvale was set back by two longwall changeovers during 2009-10 and produced 2.61Mt of ROM coal – well down on the 3.35Mt produced in the previous year.

The nearby Lamberts Gully open cut operations also wound down during the recent June quarter.

Centennial’s Airly continuous miner operation started up its first exports through Port Kembla in April and the mine’s first shuttle cars were delivered in June.

Airly will use the place change mining system. Production crews were trained at Centennial’s Clarence colliery last month.

Centennial’s 95%-owned Charbon underground and open cut mine produced 1.01Mt for the recent financial year, about 0.3Mt short of the production target.

As a key export mine for the company, which mainly produces coal to satisfy the domestic thermal market, a significant impact to its export sales for 2009-10 is expected.

Centennial said the production shortfall was almost entirely due to the open cut operation which experienced delays in gaining government approvals for a lease extension – forcing the mine to only extract the remnant Irondale seam.

Exploratory drilling for the proposed western underground project near the mine, Haystack, was completed during the past months.

The company likes the coal quality results so far but uncovered a “geological feature” which will trigger a review of how the main roadways will be positioned.

In the meantime, Centennial completed the last extraction panel in the southern section of the existing workings underground at Charbon and extraction is underway in the main roadways.

The Joy flexible conveyor train started operations at the Clarence colliery in late May and Centennial said there were “pleasing early results” in the 710 panel along with a steady increase in production and consistency thereafter.

The mine produced 384,000t for the recent quarter and set a new annual record of 1.96Mt of output for 2009-10.

The Awaba continuous miner operation is successfully recovering coal pillars in old workings and Centennial expects the mine life will be extended well into 2012.

Production was 7% above the previous quarter at 202,000t while the annual amount was 797,000t.

The Mannering mine is operating with two place change units after one unit was removed to become the fourth one at the Myuna mine.

Mannering increased production 10% above the March quarter to 165,000t while 2009-10 output was up 22% year-on-year to 729,000t.

The Myuna mine is using three units in three different seams and produced 330,000t during the recent quarter, up 20% on the previous quarter.

Last month’s production was the highest at the mine since 2004 with Centennial attributing the performance to changes in the mine layout in the Fassifern seam and the successful implementation of pillar stripping in the Great Northern seam.

Annual production was 1.15Mt – 2% better than 2008-09.

The Newstan mine is still on care and maintenance but 48 slim core boreholes and 2 large diameter boreholes have been drilled at the 4Mtpa ROM coal Newstan Lochiel project.

Centennial’s Inglenook project covers four tenements close to its operations in the Western Coalfield, near the western rail line to allow for export through Port Kembla.

Total resources at the project are 256Mt while more exploration is underway and community consultation processes have started.

The wash plant and loading facilities at Charbon will be used for the future mine.

Final dividend and Banpu takeover

Centennial’s board declared a final dividend of 4c per share, partially franked to 40%.

The record date for the dividend entitlement is August 6 while the payment date is October 8.

Due to the looming takeover of the company by Thai energy giant Banpu, Centennial’s dividend reinvestment plan is off the cards.

Banpu won over the Centennial board with its $A6.20 cash per share offer made earlier this month.

Banpu is expected to dispatch its bidder’s statement soon, with the offer acceptance period to start from July 29.

Centennial plans to release its target’s statement – which includes an independent expert’s report on the offer – in mid-August.

Centennial shares closed up 1c to $6 yesterday.

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