Whitehaven FY production jumps

Miner increases output after boosting Narrabri longwall operation.

Whitehaven Coal Ltd's full-year coal production jumped as the miner continues to boost its Narrabri longwall operation, however the miner has warned on the impact of the falling commodity prices and a still high Australian dollar.

Shares in Whitehaven dipped on the news. At 1230 AEST, Whitehaven shares were 1.88% lower at $2.09 against a benchmark index rise of 0.07%.

The company said run-of-mine (ROM) coal production equity share was 7.352 million tonnes for the year to June 30, up 58% from 4.657 million tonnes in the previous year (see Tim Treadgold's Black clouds clear over Whitehaven)..

Production also jumped in operations managed by Whitehaven, to 9.072 million tonnes in the year to June 30, up 71% from 5.3 million tonnes in the previous year.

Saleable coal production on an equity basis rose 55% to 6.63 million tonnes in the full year, from 4.275 million tonnes in the prior year.

In the three months to June 30, ROM coal production equity share was 1.847 million tonnes, up 42% from 1.303 million tonnes in the previous corresponding period.

In operations managed by Whitehaven, June quarter ROM coal production was 2.247 million tonnes, up 53% from 1.471 million tonnes in the previous June quarter.

Saleable coal production on an equity basis increased 48% to 1.807 million tonnes in the June quarter, from 1.218 million tonnes in the June 2012 quarter.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, the company said its realised value for thermal coal in the second half has been affected adversely by the continued weakness in the market price, adverse foreign exchange rates, and lower energy of Narrabri thermal coal.

Thermal coal prices hit $US77 a tonne in July, from $US93 a tonne in December as the Australian dollar continues to hold above 92 US cents.

With the recommencement of longwall production at Narrabri, and commissioning of the bypass crusher over the coming weeks, thermal coal energy is expected to improve in the next quarter, Whitehaven said.

The miner also said it is conducting an operational review to reduce mine operating costs and overheads because of continuing low coal prices and the high Australian dollar, and plans to restructure its finance and administration areas.

Whitehaven said the benchmark price of its metallurgical product, Newcastle semi-soft coking coal, has declined to $US113.50 ($A$122.39) free on board per tonne in the June quarter and this is expected to reduce in line with market declines to approximately $US102-103 per tonne in the September quarter.

Whitehaven said it expects coal sales from the Maules Creek project in northwest NSW to commence in the December quarter of 2014, even though environmentalists have lodged appeals in the Federal Court.

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