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New Coal Production Records Set by Anglo and Vale
Two global coal mining giants, Anglo American and Brazil’s Vale, have both shattered coal production records for the full year to December 31, 2012 compared with the previous year. Australian Coal Report’s Jack Saunders reports on the results.
During the December quarter Anglo’s met coal production jumped 13% over the same quarter last year, driven by a strong performance in longwall production, particularly at Moranbah which boosted output by 55% above 3Q 2012. Peace River in Canada scored a 43% rise due to a combination of productivity improvements and upgrades to the coal handling and preparation plant.
Anglo American continues to focus on delivering growth in premium coking coals and reducing lower margin tonnes. The brownfield Grosvenor met coal project in Queensland is progressing in line with expectations as all permits and licences are in place and engineering and procurement activities progressing to plan.
Construction at Grosvenor has commenced on site with access roads complete, bulk earthworks well under way and longwall production expected to kick off in 2016.
Export thermal coal out of South Africa increased by 5% to 4.7Mt as a result of the ramp-up at Zibulo and a change to include lower calorific value and higher yielding products at Zibulo and Goedehoop. This was partly offset by the planned closures of high-cost pits at Kleinkopje.
Domestic coal production in South Africa fell by 7% to 10.2Mt predominantly caused by an additional longwall move at New Denmark.
The weighted average achieved FOB prices tended to move in the opposite direction. Anglo’s seaborne metallurgical coal dipped further in the 4Q 2012, bottoming out at US$146/t, down 22% from $188/t in 3Q 2012, and from what now looks like a towering $234/t in 4Q 2011.
Export thermal coal prices slipped slightly less, down 14% in 4Q 2012 to US$83/t compared with 3Q 2012, and 19% from $103/t recorded in 4Q 2011.
Meanwhile Brazilian miner Vale set a new record for coal production during 2012, achieving some 7.1Mt made up of 5.1Mt of metallurgical coal and 2.0Mt of thermal product.
The company reports this was a consequence of the ramp-up of Moatize in Tete, Mozambique, and a significant improvement in the performance of Integra Coal and other mines in Australia.
In its first full year of operation Moatize produced 3.768Mt, of which 2.5Mt was met coal and 1.27Mt was thermal.
The ramp-up of the first phase of the Moatize coal project is restricted by the availability of railroad and port capacity but the construction of the Nacala corridor project promises to eliminate the logistics bottleneck.
The required licences have already been granted by the governments of Mozambique and Malawi and construction is underway.
The company reports, given these limitations, Vale has been concentrating shipments on the higher prices Chipanga premium hard coking coal and other typical HCC product.
Production of Integra coal rose 65.8% in 2012, made up of 962kt of coking coal and 351kt of thermal, representing a doubling of coking coal output due to continuous improvement in geological conditions in both the underground and open cut mines.
Production from the company’s other Australian mines was 1.34Mt, an increase of 48% above the 2011 level.
Carborough Downs increased production by 185% in the fourth quarter of 2012, reaching 373kt of coking coal, up from 131kt in the third quarter.
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