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Narrabri breaks production record to Whitehaven’s profit

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World Coal,

Whitehaven Coal’s Narrabri longwall coal mine set an annual record production of 8.3 million t of ROM coal in 2015, making it one of the most productive and lowest-cost underground coal miners in Australia. The production record is well above its original design capacity of 6 million tpy.

“This performance confirms Narrabri mine as one of the top three underground coal mines in Australia,” Whitehaven said in its December 2015 Quarterly Report. “Approval by the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment to increase Narrabri’s annual production limit from 8.0 million tpy to 11.0 million tpy points to the future of the mine.”

Due to the performance at Narrabri and continued ramp up of production at Maules Creek, where full year production guidance for the 2016 financial year was raised to 7.6 million t of ROM coal, saw the company raise its production guidance from 19.5 million t to 20.1 million t for the 2016 financial year (which runs over the 12 months to June 2016).

Overall, production in 2H15 was 9.3 million t – a 64% increase on the same period in 2014. Coal sales totaled 9.4 million t, 57% up on the 2H14, with earnings of AUS$100 – 105 million. As a result, Whitehaven said it would be profitable in 2H15, allowing it to reduce its net debt of the 2016 financial year.

4Q15 also saw the first metallurgical coal sales from Maules Creek with Whitehaven’s exports sales comprising 10% metallurgical coal as a result. Average prices for its metallurgical products in Q415 was US$65 per tonne with the company expecting prices to remain at a similar level in 1Q16.

For the company’s thermal coal – which accounted for 90% of its export sales as Maules Creek thermal coal entered the company’s product mix – prices averaged US$54.1 per tonne. This reflected a 4% premium on the benchmark Newcastle thermal coal index as larger sales of high-quality coal from Narrabri and Maules Creek lifted the average quality of the company’s coal. Maules Creek coal in particular achieved an 11% premium about the benchmark price for the quarter.

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