Whitehaven Coal, one of Australia’s leading coal producers, has announced a significant rebound in coal production for the fourth quarter. The company attributes this increase to drier weather conditions along the country’s east coast. Additionally, Whitehaven’s fiscal year 2023 has seen a record average coal price, which has further strengthened its cash position.
Impressive Fourth-Quarter Performance
With a run-of-mine coal output of 5.1 million metric tons in the three months through June, Whitehaven achieved a 19% increase compared to the previous quarter. The company’s annual production reached 18.2 million tons, which falls within the lower end of its guidance range of 18.0 million-19.2 million tons.
Challenges and Resilience
Despite facing challenges such as flooding and weather delays in the first half of the fiscal year, labor shortages, and operational constraints at Maules Creek, Whitehaven managed to meet its production and sales guidance for FY23. Chief Executive Paul Flynn expressed satisfaction with the stronger performance in the June quarter, which contributed to overall success in meeting targets.
Record Coal Price Boosts Cash Generation and Share Buybacks
Whitehaven’s coal achieved an exceptional average price of AUD 445 per ton in fiscal year 2023, surpassing the previous high of AUD 325 per ton in fiscal year 2022. This outstanding market performance generated AUD 4.2 billion in cash over the year. As a result, the company embarked on a successful share buyback program worth nearly AUD 950 million.
Strong Financial Position and Refinancing Decision
At the end of June, Whitehaven reported a net cash position of AUD 2.65 billion. As part of its ongoing refinancing efforts, the company made the strategic decision not to renew a AUD 1 billion undrawn finance facility. This move aligns with Whitehaven’s broader financial strategy.