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Whitehaven Coal posts record production results

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Whitehaven Coal has posted a 44 per cent increase in saleable coal production for the December quarter due to strong results from its Narrabri mine.

Announcing its December quarter results this morning, the company revealed it produced 2.86 million tonnes of saleable coal, a 44 per cent increase on the 1.99 million tonnes in the three months to December 2012.

While total coal sales totalled 3.16 million tonnes, a 52 per cent increase on the 2.08 million tonnes in the prior corresponding period.

The company said production from its Narrabri mine exceeded its nameplate capacity over a number of weeks during the quarter, totalling 1.92 million tonnes in the three months to December, an 81 per cent increase on the same period in 2012.

Whitehaven said the second longwall panel at Narrabri was completed in January, with the deployment of lonwgwall equipment to panel three running ahead of schedule, with prodcution expected to recommence in March.

Production at the company’s other mines also increased, with Tarrawonga mine posting an 11 per cent increase at 0.53 Mt.

Rocglen mine produced 0.287Mt for a 13 per cent lift.

While Werris Creek  mine was up 48 per cent after it produced 0.540Mt du to the completion of an expansion at the site.

The miner received an average of $US103 a tonne for its metallurgical coal in the quarter, but says prices are expected to drop to US$101 a tonne by March 2014.

Hard coking coal settled at US$143 a tonne, lower than a spot price of around US$160 a tonne at the start of last year, it said.

While thermal coal sales had an average price of $US82.28 per tonne in the quarter.

"Prices are expected to remain at these levels for the remainder of 2014 and then increase into 2015," Whitehaven stated.

The company noted it was free to go ahead with its Maules Creek mine project after the Federal Court dismissed a challenge by environmental groups attempting halt the mine’s development.

It said the construction of facilities and a rail line at the site had commenced.

The company also said it had amended its $1.2 billion debt facility to suit the revised Maules Creek production timeline.

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