A number of Australian metallurgical coal exporters have recently signaled that they have suffered production setbacks and are expecting lower output for fiscal year 2018.
In its most recent production report, BHP said metallurgical coal production for the half-year ending in December decreased by 4% to 20 million metric tons (mt). The company’s guidance for FY2018 has been revised from 44 million to 46 million mt down to 41 million to 43 million mt, which reflects lower volumes now expected at Broadmeadow and Blackwater mines.
BHP’s Queensland-based coal production was lower due to the impacts of ongoing challenging roof conditions at Broadmeadow and geotechnical issues brought on by wet weather at Blackwater, the company said. This was partially offset by record production at South Walker Creek, Saraji, Caval Ridge and Daunia, underpinned by improved truck and shovel performance, utilization of latent dragline capacity at Caval Ridge and increased wash-plant feed rates.
The company said its Caval Ridge Southern Circuit project is progressing according to plan, with production expected to ramp up early in FY2019.
Anglo American reported less metallurgical coal production from its Australian operations for 2017. Total met production decreased to 21.3 million mt from 22.7 million mt. The company said the Grosvenor ramp-up and record productivity levels at underground operations were offset by the removal of higher cost volumes at Dawson.
During the fourth quarter, Anglo American’s export metallurgical coal production decreased by 8% to 4.9 million mt due to an extended longwall move at Grosvenor and lower production at Dawson. The Dawson mine was reconfigured at the end of 2016 to remove higher cost volumes and, in the fourth quarter of 2017, was transitioning to a new mining area. This was partially offset by an increase in production at Grasstree, which experienced geological issues and a longwall move in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Grosvenor completed its first longwall panel during the fourth quarter of 2017, which was followed by an extended longwall move to rectify component defects identified during the first panel.
For the half-year ending in December, Perth-based South32 reported a decrease in coking coal production to 1.3 million mt from 2.8 million mt during the same period one year ago. The company restarted a single longwall at the Appin colliery during mid-October.
Saleable production from Illawarra Metallurgical Coal decreased by 50% (or 1.9 million mt) to 1.9 million mt in the December half-year as the Appin colliery recovered from the extended outage and the Dendrobium longwall progressed through a faulted zone.
The company said it remains on track to produce 4.5 million mt of coal at Illawarra during this fiscal year, even with a longwall move scheduled for the Dendrobium mine in the March quarter.