Rising raw coal production from open cut mines in the Hunter Valley, Gunnedah and Mudgee have led an increase in overall raw coal production for the nine months ending 31 March 2017 of 1.4%.
Although the export volume for the first three quarters for financial year 2016-17 only increased by 0.5% compared to the previous corresponding period, the FOB value was increased by 31%.This was due to the increased coal price, with the average FOB value for metallurgical coal at $159.5 (up 61%) and steaming coal at $93 (up 22%).
At the end of March 2017 there were 42 coal mines operating in NSW, 22 were open cut and 20 were underground mines (14 longwall operations).
Overall raw coal production for the first three quarters of financial year 2016-17 of 188 million tonnes was 1.4% higher than the first three quarters of 2015-16.
At a regional level, there is growth in the Gunnedah and Western coalfields. Gunnedah continued to grow with raw production of 23 million tonnes for the 9 months to March 2017, up 7% from the 9 months to March 2016. The Western coalfield rose by 12.5% to 36 million tonnes in the 9 months to March 2017.
Underground mines continued the recent decline in raw coal production with 48 million tonnes for the first three quarters of financial year 2016-17. This was down 5.4% for the same period in the preceding year, driven by the reduction from the Hunter (down 17%), Newcastle (down 16%) and Southern (down 11%) coalfields.
The decline in the underground sector was offset by increased production by open cut mines in the Hunter Valley (2%), Gunnedah (9%) and Mudgee (15%).
Both Newcastle underground and open cut raw production fell, contributing to an overall total of 9 million tonnes in the first three quarters of 2016-17, down 15% compared to the previous year.
Production employment is defined as all persons working in or about the coal mine or coal preparation plant, pertaining to its operation, whether employed by the mine owner/operator or by a contractor. Production employment of 19,568 as at 31 March 2017, was down 1.6% from 31 March 2016 at 19,880.
The underground mines employment was 6,659 as at 31 March 2017, down 5% from the previous year.
NSW coal was shipped to 21 countries during the first three quarters of financial year 2016-17 by 47 different shippers. Compared to the first three quarters of 2015-16, the export volume increased by 0.5% to 128 million tonnes. Japan continued to be NSW’s largest export market accounting for 44% of the exports.
While the export volume for the first three quarters of 2016-17 was slightly up from the previous financial year, the export volume via Port Kembla decreased by 22% to continue the declining trend.
The FOB value of NSW coal exports for the first three quarters of 2016-17 was $13.2 billion Australian dollars, up 31% from the first three quarters of the previous financial year. This was due to the metallurgical coal average FOB value rising from $98.98 for the first three quarters of 2015-16 to $159.54 in the first three quarters of 2016-17, an increase of 61%. Steaming coal average FOB value also increased by 22%, from $76.23 in the first three quarters of 2015/16 to $93.08 in the first three quarters of 2016-17.
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