Solid three months
Curragh escapes the worst of TC Debbie disruptions.
Wednesday 26 July 2017
Coal production at the Wesfarmers owned Curragh Coal mine has only taken a modest hit from TC Debbie in the last three months.
Total coal production was down just 3.2% to just over 3 million tonnes, reflecting the fact that the Blackwater rail line was back operating much faster than the Goonyella system which was out of action for a month.
While coking coal production was down around 10%, Curragh managed to increase production of thermal coal by around 14% despite the disruptions.
The last three months have been a slight deviation from an otherwise vastly improved twelve months for Curragh, with metallurgical coal production increasing by 12.5% and steaming coal production increasing by 16.5% last financial year.
Since the 2016 recovery in coal prices, Curragh has brought in more contractors to improve overburden removal and revised its mine plan to target the best-priced coals in the current market.
In January, Wesfarmers said they were making “good progress” on plans to extend the life of Curragh beyond 2030, after receiving Commonwealth approval for some nearby mining lease applications.
Three years ago Wesfarmers paid Peabody $90 million for a Mining Development Licence (MDL) which they now want to convert to a Mining Lease which would allow them to start mining.
The area covered by the MDL contains about 250 million tonnes of mostly steelmaking coal, of which about 70 million tonnes is highly drilled and classified as proven and probable under JORC reporting rules.
Importantly for Wesfarmers, the MDL is located between the existing Curragh North and Curragh South mining operations, meaning the coal can be exploited without any new processing infrastructure.
Technically, Wesfarmers still has Curragh mine on the market.
However, there hasn’t been any further speculation about interested buyers since Fortescue Metals Group said unsubstantiated claims that they had made an “indicative” bid of more than $1 billion for the mine were “incorrect” in February.