An employer downgraded forecast output due to autonomous and manpower difficulties at its coal operations.
Whitehaven Coal expects to report 4.3 million tonnes of managed run-of-mine production for the March 2023 quarter across its Maules Creek, Narrabri and Gunnedah open cut mines. The figure is “below plan”.
The proponent revealed its efforts to automate heavy vehicles face integration challenges, because driverless trucks are separated from human-operated fleets, limiting space to move loads. The company also experienced challenges in hiring and keeping skilled employees.
“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,” it said in its latest fiscal 2023 guidance.
“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 company hopes production volumes will rise during the June 2023 quarter. As a result some sales volumes will be “pushed” into fiscal 2024.