Jobs go as Whitehaven cracks down on costs
Whitehaven Coal says weak prices and the strong dollar are continuing to drag on its overall performance, as it flagged broader cost-cutting across its mines.
The coalminer said it had cut 40 jobs at its Tarrawonga and Rocglen mines as part of the first stage of its operational review, and would continue to reduce costs at its other mines.
"Whitehaven is committed to driving down costs ... with a key focus on reducing mine operating costs, overheads and extracting operational efficiencies," it said.
Investors were looking for signs of improvement at its Narrabri operations and news of final approval at its controversial Maules Creek mine in Whitehaven's quarterly production update on Tuesday.
But production from Narrabri has been slow to ramp up, while approvals at Maules Creek have been delayed extensively, coming at a "significant cost" of about $US4 a tonne, Whitehaven said.
While Whitehaven said its Narrabri mine had performed well in the quarter, it had been adversely affected by persistent problems with moisture, which lowers the energy content, and the sale price of its thermal coal. The ramp up of the Narrabri longwall project accounted for a 99 per cent increase in coal production to 2.5 million tonnes.
The Maules Creek coalmine, in the Leard State Forest in the Gunnedah Basin, achieved notoriety as the subject of an elaborate hoax by an environmental activist in January that momentarily wiped $300 million off Whitehaven's market capitalisation.
It also stands to double Whitehaven's annual production if it gets off the ground.
Managing director Paul Flynn said he was confident approvals from federal and state governments were imminent. "We are weeks rather than months away," he said.
Shares in Whitehaven closed 1¢, or 0.5 per cent, lower at $1.95.