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A very bad year: Coronado laments series of 'black swan' events


Curragh mine owners Coronado Coal have lamented a year of “black swan” events that dashed its optimism of charging through 2020 despite the pandemic.

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Chairman William Koeck said the company, which also owns coal mines in the US, was pushing a new green theme to its operations.

Koeck told shareholders at its annual general meeting that Coronado was investigating a range of operational and commercial projects to minimise or offsets its carbon footprint.

They included a solar farm at its Curragh mine, which is now at feasibility stage. It was also investigating the use of incidental coal seam gas at the mine to either generate electricity or as a substitute for diesel.

There was also an option for carbon abatement technologies and carbon offsets.

Koeck said the “black swan” (unforeseeable issues that have a major consequences) events that disrupted the company included the China ban on Australian coal as well as its trade dispute with the US. There was also the death of Curragh worker Donald Rabbitt, over which Coronado and its mine operator Thiess, as well as a site executive, were facing charges.

He said the company was hopeful a resolution could be found to Australia’s diplomatic brawl with China which forced producers to divert coal to other markets.

“The irony is that while the price of Australian metallurgical coal fell to around $US100 a tonne, Chinese steel mills were forced to pay up to $US265 a tonne for lower quality domestic met coal and mich higher prices for other imported met coal,” Koeck said.

He said the unprecedented chain of events put the company under “great strain” which was reflected in its results that had few positives and included a 16 per cent fall in saleable production and 9 per cent fall in sale volumes.

The price it received for its coal was down 30 per cent for the year and revenue fell 34 per cent.

“Our industry is facing two key issues that will determine the improvement, or otherwise, in metallurgical coal in 2021.

“(They are) the resolution of the Chinese import ban on Australian coal, which is artificially distorting the benchmark index and export pricing and the continued impact of COVID-19 on global markets and economies and the overall demand for steel.”







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