Engineering & Mining Journal

FEB 2019

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Page 25 of 75

NEWS - THIS MONTH IN COAL 24 E&MJ • FEBRUARY 2019 Queensland Coal Exports Hit Record High Queensland's coal exports have reached a record high and yearly totals are predict- ed to continue growing, according to the Queensland Resources Council (QRC). The council said 223 million metric tons (mt) of coal was shipped from Queensland ports to 30 different countries and terri- tories last year, trumping the previous re- cord set in 2016 by 2 million mt. QRC CEO Ian Macfarlane said big players and new entrants to the state's coal industry have driven billions of dol- lars in investment. He said, "There is a very strong demand out there, which is underpinning our economic strength at the moment in Queensland." Macfarlane said based on early figures, demand and job numbers for this year were promising. He said, "It'll depend on how that demand holds up, but even at this ear- ly stage, we're seeing very strong demand, both for metallurgical coal and for thermal coal out of Queensland, we're still seeing lots of job advertisements for people." He added, "We have a number of projects on the drawing boards in Central Queensland right across the Central High- lands and the Galilee Basin as well, so we are seeing very strong investment and very strong jobs growth that goes with it. We do have those extreme green activists who continually say coal is in decline, but these figures clearly show that that is a lie, and the reality is that coal is continu- ing to grow and continuing to play an im- portant part in our economy." Illawarra Longwalls Performing Strong In its latest quarterly report, Australian min- er South32 noted exceptional improvement from its longwall mining units at its Illawar- ra Metallurgical Coal, which allowed it to exceed prior-production guidance. Coal pro- duction during the last two quarters totals 3.84 million metric tons (mt) compared to 4.24 million tons for fiscal year 2018. The company is expecting 6.5 million mt for fiscal year 2019 with two longwall moves scheduled for the March 2019 quarter. While metallurgical coal prices have softened a bit, Illawarra realized an average price of $207/mt during the second half of 2018. "We achieved a strong quarter of production, maintaining full-year guid- ance for all operations with the exception of Illawarra Metallurgical where improved longwall performance has underpinned a 7% increase to our prior estimate," said Graham Kerr, CEO, South32. "The Dend- robium and Appin longwalls continued to perform strongly." The company said it has stockpiled enough coal to cover the downtime from the two longwall moves. "We also completed our review of the Eagle Downs metallurgical coal project's development plan and commenced the feasibility study ahead of a final invest- ment decision scheduled for the second half of 2020," Kerr said. The company also said it finalized plans to return the Klipspruit dragline to service by the end of January, which will enable a strong recovery for export vol- umes at South Africa Energy Coal in the June half year. The company is currently trying to sell the South Africa Energy Coal business and said it expects binding bids by the end of the June half year. The company's South Africa Energy Coal production decreased 9% (or 1.25 million mt) to 12.2 million mt during the December 2018 half year. Export produc- tion was impacted when the Klipspruit dragline was taken down to repair structural damage to the boom in August 2018. Do- mestic production, however, benefited from the commencement of a contract to sell lower quality stockpiled product in the June 2018 quarter. The company said its fiscal year 2019 production guidance remains unchanged at 29 million mt (17.5 million mt domestic and 11.5 million mt export). Production Halts at Donkin Coal Mine Kameron Collieries, an affiliate of The Cline Group, and owner/operator of the Donkin coal mine in Cape Breton, Nova Sco- tia, temporarily suspended production at Donkin due to a roof collapse in an older part of the mine. The incident occurred on December 28 during Kameron's scheduled holiday shutdown and no workers were in- jured. Kameron has been directed by the Nova Scotia Department of Labor to review a variety of engineering and operational measures designed to monitor, control and prevent future mine roof falls. Production at Donkin is expected to resume after Kamer- on and government inspectors are satisfied that the appropriate measures are in place. Kameron continues to make pro- ductivity improvements. In December, it installed a Flexible Conveyor Train coal-haulage system to replace part of Donkin's shuttle car fleet. It is expected to significantly increase production vol- umes in 2019 once production resumes. Production at Donkin is anticipated to reach annual sales volumes of 2.7 million to 3 million mt over the next two years. Miners perform maintenance on a longwall shearer at South32's Illawarra operations.

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