PERTH (miningweekly.com) – South Africa-focused coal miner Universal Coal has reported record sales and record operating cash flows during the three months to March, despite an 11% drop in production.
Run-of-mine coal production for the quarter fell to 905 000 t, from 1.02-million tonnes in the December quarter, with Universal telling shareholders on Friday that production at its Kangala colliery was affected by the January holiday period and above-average rainfall.
Coal production from the Kangala colliery declined by 20% during the quarter, to 713 948 t, while production from the newly opened New Clydesdale Colliery (NCC) rose by 51% to 191 396 t, as steady-state underground production was achieved.
Despite the decline in production, Universal has reported record sales, with domestic sales up 6% to 607 000 t, and export sales up 13% to 121 000 t. Total coal sales for the quarter rose by 7% to 729 000 t.
For the year-to-date period, total sales volumes were up 39% on the previous corresponding period, to 1.98-million tonnes.
“We are proud of this result, which shows that our efforts are finally beginning to bear fruit; with our second operation at NCC building up significant capacity, we anticipate one further quarter of processing low-yield material in lieu of the opencast run-of-mine feed,” says Universal CEO Tony Weber.
“Our results will continue to improve significantly with NCC's opencast now in the ramp-up phase, and the third section of the coal processing facility totally rebuilt and set to be commissioned by the end of April 2017.”
Weber notes that the remaining development at NCC is due to be completed before the end of the June quarter, making way for a full year of production in 2018.
“Our current priorities are to achieve steady state in the NCC opencast operation, while at Kangala, we are continuously striving for operational efficiencies and consistency. We are focused on closing the year on a positive note, paving the way for sustained cash flows, continued growth and initiating shareholder returns.”
Looking ahead at the June quarter, Universal is aiming to achieve coal sales of over one-million tonnes.