MIXED BAG FOR WHITEHAVEN
SALES are on the rise at Whitehaven Coal but the miner expects prices to keep falling.
Whitehaven chalked up a 46 per cent improvement in coal sales in the three months to June, due mainly to increased production at its Narrabri mine and the commissioning of its controversial Maules Creek project.
More than 1.4 million tonnes of coal was produced at Maules Creek during the period and production will soon be ramped up to an annual rate of 8.5 million tonnes, it said.
But coal prices have continued to fall due to an oversupply in the market and lower Chinese demand, though Whitehaven said it had been shielded somewhat by the high quality of its thermal coal, which is used to generate electricity.
The average thermal coal price realised by the company was $82.3 per tonne in the June quarter, down from $88.6 in the three months to March.
The average June quarter price for its metallurgical coal, used by the steel industry, was $103 per tonne, down from $118 in the preceding quarter.
Managing director Paul Flynn tipped prices for metallurgical coal to fall further in the September quarter, in the range of $95 to $102 a tonne. “Certainly, our forecast for the September quarter is a further reduction,” Mr Flynn said.
Whitehaven shares dropped 8c, or 6.4 per cent, to $1.165.