Australia's Whitehaven Cuts 2022 Coal Export Guidance
By Jo Clarke
November 10, 2022 - Australian coal mining firm Whitehaven has cut its guidance for the year to 30 June by 14pc compared with 2021, as wet weather and flooding disrupt exports from the key thermal and metallurgical coal-exporting state of New South Wales (NSW).
Whitehaven cut its managed coal sales guidance to 16.5mn-18mn t from the 17.5mn-18.5mn t that it reiterated on 19 October. This came after three weeks of localised flooding that cut coal haulage at its open-pit mines and as the industry-wide labour shortage continued to weigh on production.
The key port of Newcastle reported coal shipments of 10.08mn t in October, up from a depressed 10.06mn t in September, but down from 14.25mn t in October 2021. Newcastle shipments of 113.32mn t in January-October are 14pc behind the same period last year and 17.5pc lower from the peak in 2019, despite record high prices for export coal. Queensland shipments for January-September are also down by 5pc against the same period last year and by 13pc from 2019.
Australian coal shipments usually ramp up towards the end of the year, but this may be curtailed by more heavy rainfall brought about by the third La Nina weather pattern in a row.
Whitehaven cut expected run-of-mine (ROM) production at its Maules Creek mine to 10.3mn-11mn t from 11.7mn-12.6mn t and at the Gunnedah open-cut mines to 3.1mn-3.4mn t from 3.3mn-3.7mn t, but increased guidance for its Narrabri underground mine to 5.6mn-6mn t from 5mn-5.7mn t.
Whitehaven and the nearby 7mn t/yr Boggabri thermal and metallurgical coal mine operated by Japan's Idemitsu were a couple of the NSW mining firms that were most affected in this latest round of flooding from mid-October. The flooding was centered on the Namoi river near the towns of Gunnedah and Narrabri. But mining firms in the Hunter Valley have also struggled with above-average rainfall on saturated ground, which is reducing Australian coal exports.
Whitehaven's managed coal sales of 18.82mn t in the year to 30 June was down from 19.8mn t in the previous financial year.
Argus last assessed high-grade 6,000 kcal/kg NAR thermal coal at $362.25/t fob Newcastle on 4 November, down from $439.50/t on 16 September and from $383.82/t on 1 July. It assessed lower-grade 5,500 kcal/kg NAR coal at $141.41/t fob Newcastle on 4 November, down from $189.49/t on 16 September and from $188.73/t on 1 July.
The heat-adjusted premium for higher grade thermal coal on a NAR 6,000 basis was $207.98/t on 4 November, down from $232.78/t on 16 September but still much higher than the five-year average.
Argus assessed the semi-soft mid-volatile metallurgical coal price at $265.16/t fob Australia on 8 November, up from $209.25/t on 16 September but down from $400/t on 31 May.
Newcastle coal exports (mn t)
Australian export coal price comparisons ($/t)