Yancoal Australia’s 2018 coal output rises 59% on year to 50 mil mt

Yancoal Australia said Friday it produced 50 million mt of salable coal in 2018, up 59% year on year.

It attributed much of the increase to the contribution from assets it acquired from Rio Tinto in September 2017 in a filing to the Australian Securities Exchange, and forecast further growth in 2019. The company, which is majority-owned by China-based Yanzhou Coal, said 32.9 million mt of the total was attributable to Yancoal, up 78% on the year. It said guidance for attributable salable coal production for 2019 was higher at 35 million mt. Yancoal said is attributable metallurgical coal sales in 2018 totaled 7.2 million mt, up 16% year on year.

The miner’s equity share of volumes include Moolarben (85%), Mount Thorley Warkworth (82.9%), Hunter Valley Operations (51%), Stratford Duralie (100%), Yarrabee (100%), Middlemount (50%), Ashton (100%) and Austar (100%) in eastern Australia. Yancoal said it also benefited from a full quarter’s impact of new fleet maintenance practices at the Mount Thorley Warkworth open cut mine operation in the Hunter Valley region of the state of New South Wales, which reduced truck downtimes and interruptions to extraction and haulage rates.

“Similar maintenance reviews are ongoing across Yancoal’s other open cut mines, including the tier one joint venture Hunter Valley Operations mine, as the business continues to establish new operating protocols and efficiencies to drive further production gains,” the company said in a statement. Yancoal said that while Australia remains a major source of premium grade metallurgical coal, the curtailing of new supply growth due to ongoing challenges associated with obtaining approval for greenfield developments is likely to strengthen premium coal prices, with operators of brownfield expansion opportunities likely to benefit. “In the year ahead, Yancoal will continue to ramp up exploratory works across its tier one assets to evaluate new opportunities to meet strong thermal and metallurgical coal customer demand,” it said.

“Importantly, we are making positive progress regarding the potential development of a proposed 6 million mt/year underground mine at Mount Thorley Warkworth, with exploration drilling for the prefeasibility on the target seams completed at the end of 2018,” it added.

Yancoal acquired Rio Tinto’s Hunter Valley Operations and Mount Thorley Warkworth mines for A$2.69 billion in September 2017.