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Bathurst maintains guidance despite reduced Stockton output

By Gavin Evans

April 23 (BusinessDesk) - Bathurst Resources has maintained its full-year earnings guidance despite reduced production at Stockton and a shipping delay trimming March-quarter earnings.

New Zealand’s biggest coal miner says earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in its third quarter fell to $24 million in the period, down from $26 million in the December quarter and about $2 million less than the firm had been expecting.

Stockton on the West Coast produced 255,000 tonnes of coal in the quarter, with sales of 248,000 tonnes generating just over $62 million in revenue.

While overburden, or other rock, removal was on plan, production was down by about 25,000 tonnes, reflecting the less-productive pits being targeted during the period.

“This is not expected to impact Q4,” the Wellington-based miner said in a quarterly report lodged with the ASX.

“Sales volumes were lower than forecast as one shipment slipped from Q3 into Q4. Strong pricing continues.”

Bathurst, which acquired Stockton and other former Solid Energy mines in 2017, is benefiting from strong demand from international steelmakers and good local demand from NZ Steel, Genesis Energy, Fonterra and other food processors.

The company reiterated its $105 million June-year ebitda forecast, having raised its June-quarter earnings estimate to $27 million from the $25 million it had signalled previously.

Bathurst owns 65 percent of Stockton and the Rotowaro and Maramarua mines in the Waikato through its BT Mining venture with Talley’s Group.

Stockton is expected to deliver about 70 percent of Bathurst’s full-year operating earnings based on full-year production of almost 1.09 million tonnes and assuming a margin of $99 a tonne.

That is up from $97 a tonne in December and assumes that sales for the June quarter are achieved at 80 percent of an average benchmark coking coal price of US$182 a tonne and a New Zealand dollar exchange rate of 68 US cents.

Production and sales from Stockton for the nine months through March totalled 810,000 and 869,000 tonnes respectively.

Bathurst noted that it has contracts to sell 193,000 tonnes of hard coking sold out to the end of December at an average price of NZ$271 a tonne. The New Zealand dollar was recently at 66.8 US cents.

It said its operations at Rotowaro are running to plan, while production at Maramarua is marginally ahead of forecast and cash costs are about 10 percent lower.

Of its wholly-owned mines on the South Island, Bathurst said Takitimu is operating to plan, while cash costs at its Canterbury operation are about 5 percent lower than forecast.

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