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Whitehaven Coal has lowered its production forecast for 2023, citing labour shortages and weather interruptions. 

The company provided the ASX with an update ahead of its March quarterly production report. Whitehaven managed run-of-mine production of 4.3 million tonnes for the March quarter, which was below plan.  

Whitehaven pointed the finger at a number of outside factors. 

“Labour shortages are being felt across the business, but the impact of several additional operational constraints at Maules Creek meant its production increased by only 9 per cent relative to the December quarter,” Whitehaven said in the update. 

“This lower than planned increase reflects labour constraints, congestion arising from limited dumping locations while keeping manned and unmanned fleets separate, and intermittent weather interruptions in the month of March.” 

The update has been felt on the ASX. Whitehaven’s share price has dipped 6.4 per cent in the past five days.  

Though Whitehaven expects an uplift in volume overall in the June quarter, lower than expected production from Maules Creek in the second half means the company’s 2023 production forecasts have fallen below the bottom end of guidance.  

Specifically, Whitehaven has lowered its expected coal production for 2023 at Maules Creek to 18 to 19.2 million tonnes, down from 19 to 20.4 million tonnes.   

Managed coal sales dropped to 15.3 to 16 million tonnes down from 16.5 to 18. 

Equity coal sales is now targeted between 12.3 to 12.9 million tonnes, down from 13.1 to 14.4. 

Whitehaven also reports an average coal price of approximately $400 per tonne for the March quarter. 

Maules Creek is an open-cut thermal coal mine in the Gunnedah Basin in NSW. The mine is Whitehaven’s newest and largest coal mine, which the company expects to deliver $2.4 billion in royalties in its first 21 years of production.