Wesfarmers coal production lifts

December quarter output increases, group to acquire more coal reserves.

Wesfarmer's (WES) total coal production lifted in the December quarter due to improved plant performance at its Curragh mine, while the group is set to acquire more coal reserves.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, Wesfarmers said total coal production in the December 2013 quarter was 3.7 million tonnes, a 6.8% lift compared to the 3.5 million tonnes it produced in the December 2012 quarter.

At the Curragh mine, production of metallurgical coal in the quarter was two million tonnes, an 11.8% increase on 1.8 million in the previous corresponding period.

Production of steaming coal at the same mine was 912,000 tonnes in the quarter, a 6.2 per cent increase on 859,000 in the December 2012 quarter.

Wesfarmers said in a separate statement it has agreed to acquire a mineral development licence from Peabody Energy for $70 million, with completion expected in the next two weeks.

The licence is located next to the Curragh mining lease and contains 67 million tonnes of coal reserves within a total coal resource of 255 million tonnes.

The group said the purchase will increase the total base of coal reserves available at Curragh by 29% and reflects confidence in the long-term outlook of its export business.

At the Bengalla mine, where Wesfarmers owns a 40% equity interest, the group said its share of coal production for the quarter was 797,000 tonnes, a 3.6% fall compared with 827,000 in the previous corresponding period.