Supervisor Class 22 May 14-15, 2014
May. 20, 2014
Front Row left to right: Mike Coleman, No. 7 Mine West; Lane Braswell, No. 7 Mine West; Jeremy Palmer, No. 7 Mine East; Joe Yonts, No. 4 Mine; Keith Collins, No. 7 Mine East; Back Row: Jamie Ward, West Virginia; Ken Vanzant, No. 7 Mine West; Billy Fields, No. 7 Mine West; Kevin Brown, No. 7 Mine East; Scott Smith, No. 4 Mine; Randy Cole, Central Supply; Stanley Bibbs, No. 7 Mine East; Keith Walden, Central Shop.
SCHELLER NOTES KEY THEMES FOR INVESTORS
May. 05, 2014
On this morning’s conference call with investors, CEO Walt Scheller summarized for investors the company’s key accomplishments so far this year:
“There are four key messages I want to convey:
· First, we remain very focused on safety, and we continued to operate safely in the first quarter.
· Second, we increased our met coal production in the quarter while continuing to reduce costs, despite various challenges.
· Next, our decision to idle operations in Canada reflects our commitment to idle uneconomic operations and to preserve the value of our high quality reserves.
· And finally, we took steps in the quarter to improve our financial flexibility and liquidity.
The bottom line is this. Yes, the market continues to be plagued by low met coal prices. But consistent with our message over the past several quarters, Walter Energy continues to execute extremely well in the areas we control.”
To listen to the full conference call, Click on this Link
Note: Conference call availble for 30 Days as of May 1, 2014
Walt Scheller’s Remarks to Shareholders at Annual Meeting
May. 05, 2014
Our principal management focus during 2013 was to mitigate the impact of the challenging market conditions we faced for metallurgical coal. I’m very pleased to report that we lowered costs significantly, increased production of our high value metallurgical coal, and strengthened our relationships with existing customers.
We concentrated on improving the cost structure and cash contribution of every mine. As you saw in our announcement last week regarding our Canadian operations, we are willing to idle operations where the cost structure doesn’t meet our objective of being cash positive or where inventories have grown to unsatisfactory levels. We’ve made a lot of progress in Canada lowering costs and improving productivity, but, in the face of such daunting market conditions, it wasn’t enough.
As I said in our announcement last week, the Canadian coal reserves are valuable assets, but, given the current met coal pricing environment, our best course of action at this time is to idle these operations until we can achieve reasonable value for coal we mine. In the meantime, we’ll monetize existing inventories in Canada by continuing to process coal in inventory and move it to the port for sale.
Of course, these decisions, while necessary, are painful to execute because of the impact that they have on our employees, their families and the communities in which they live. We try to deliver the news face-to-face with employees and provide them with assistance as best we can.
In addition to addressing the cost structure of our mines, we also improved administrative costs by 25 percent year-over-year. We’ll continue our efforts to identify additional savings and expect our annual run-rate for SG&A expense to be $80 million going forward.
We’ve been aggressive in managing the financial aspects of our business. Actions taken in 2013 and also last month allowed us to improve our debt maturity profile significantly and to enhance our liquidity position.
We’ve also carefully allocated essential capital to key met mines so they are ready to expand production coincident with an improvement in the business cycle. And we’ve taken steps to ensure that our idled operations can return quickly to production if market conditions warrant. I estimate we could increase met coal production from our current 11 to 12 million tons per year to nearly 15 million tons per year just by increasing production at existing mines.
Despite the current market situation, I also should note that we’ve continued our strategic planning process for several key metallurgical mine projects, although at a modest pace. We estimate our Blue Creek Energy and our Belcourt-Saxon metallurgical projects could give us an additional eight million tons of high quality met coal production capacity annually over the next ten years if we determine the investments are warranted.
There are several specific operations highlights from the past year to which I would draw to your attention.
Mine No. 4 in Alabama has transitioned to longer and wider longwall panels. By mining larger blocks of coal, the longwall shearer stays in the coal longer, reducing the number of times during the year equipment must be moved to a new block. This drives higher volumes and lower per ton costs.
Our Mine No. 7 in Alabama also had outstanding results for the year, posting a 13 percent increase in production while driving down production costs eight percent.
Our Brazion operations in Canada and our Maple operation in West Virginia both improved costs in 2013. Our Falling Creek Connector Road project, for example, linked the Brule Mine to the Willow Creek Mine where Brule’s coal is processed. The road allows us to increase our hauling capacity per truck and reduces hauling distances. We could then ‘right-size’ production to match the lower cost of transportation. Coupled with our transition to owner-operated status in 2012, these steps improved Brule’s results in 2013, though not enough to overcome the current low pricing environment we face today.
Our coke and gas businesses continued to perform well. Walter Coke produces metallurgical coke for furnace and foundry applications, and has an annual capacity of 400,000 tons. The plant is the second largest merchant foundry coke producer in the U.S.
Our natural gas business represents one of the most extensive and comprehensive commercial programs for coal seam degasification in the country. In 2013, we produced approximately 12.1 billion cubic feet of gas from 1,725 wells. In addition, by extracting the gas from coal seams prior to mining, we significantly enhance the safety of mining operations.
Finally, we continued to improve safety performance. Total injuries were down 27 percent for the year, a significant improvement for which our operations people deserve a lot of credit. The Brule mine operated an entire year without a reportable incident, and several of our Alabama mine rescue teams won both team and individual national awards – a recognition of their professional excellence. Unfortunately, we had one employee fatality last year – a loss that everyone in the company feels.
The current year will be a challenging one. Although supply growth is expected to slow as current mine expansion projects reach capacity and capital spending drops, recent price settlements suggests that supply and demand are not yet in balance.
In response, we’ll continue to match production to the market, as we have done with the recent idling of our Canadian operations. In addition, we’ll continue to constrain spending across the company.
However, we believe the case for high quality met coal remains valid. For example, the forecasted 3 percent growth in steel consumption in 2014 should lead to an increase in global demand for metallurgical coal of more than 30 million metric tons. In addition, projections indicate that global steelmaking will require increasing amounts of higher quality metallurgical coal and we are managing our production portfolio accordingly.
In sum, Walter Energy finished the year a stronger, leaner company. We asked a lot of our 3,600 Walter Energy employees. We asked them to shoulder the responsibility for improving their safety performance and to spend less than they might like. They responded in remarkable fashion.
We have worked hard to prepare ourselves for the next wave of opportunities and I believe we’re ready. Thank you for being here with us today and for your interest in Walter Energy.
COMPANY TO IDLE CANADIAN OPERATIONS
May. 05, 2014
Walter Energy will idle its Canadian operations, including the Wolverine and Brazion coal mines in British Columbia because of current low pricing environment for metallurgical coal.
The company will place the Wolverine mine on idle status on April 15, 2014. Brazion (which includes the operations of Brule and Willow Creek) will continue to operate the Brule mine and the Willow preparation plant but we expect to idle the Brule mine by July 2014, following a 12 week notice period. Willow Creek mining operations will be idle by mid-June.
We will continue to operate the preparation plants at these mines to finish processing coal that already has been mined and is in inventory. We anticipate that the Willow plant will process coal for most of the year.
From an employee standpoint, approximately 415 employees will be temporarily laid off at the Wolverine mine, approximately 280 employees at Brazion, as well as other administrative support staff. A limited number of employees will remain at each site to operate the preparation plants and, once coal processing is complete, to perform ongoing equipment maintenance, and provide ongoing security for the sites during the idle period.
Supervisor Class 21 April 9-10, 2014
Apr. 29, 2014
Front Row left to right: Daniel Sims, No. 7 Mine West; Brooks Green, Central Shop; Judd Jones,Walter Minerals; George Sadowski, No. 7 Mine East; William Arnold, No. 7 Mine East; Middle Row left to right: Jason Beasley, No. 7 Mine West; Yvonne Williams, Central Supply; Donny Haygood, No. 4 Mine; Don Sandback, Wolverine Mine; Nathan Thomas, No. 7 Mine West; Back Row left to right: Jeff Cornelius, Walter Coke; Mary Phillips, No. 4 Mine; Fred Pinson, No. 7 Mine East; Rick Snyder, No. 4 Mine; Ashley Riley, Central Lab; Dan O’Dine, Brazion Mine.