Griffin slides deeper into the red

Concerns about the solvency of embattled Collie coal miner Griffin have deepened after full-year results showed its losses had risen to more than $70 million.

Days after the full extent of neighbouring miner Premier Coal's troubles emerged, Griffin's Indian owners have laid bare how desperate the company's financial position had become.

According to results posted with the Indian stock exchange by Lanco Infratech, Griffin's parent company, the Collie miner's losses ballooned to $70.6 million in the 12 months to March 31 from $19.3 million loss in 2012-13.

Griffin continues to be propped up financially by Lanco.

Driving the result was a 29 per cent drop in revenue, including a 65 per cent fall in the final quarter, as Griffin struggled with bad weather, failing equipment and deteriorating coal quality.

Griffin chief financial officer James Riordan acknowledged the results were poor.

Mr Riordan said the miner had turned a corner since handing over operational responsibilities to Waroona-based contractor Carna Civil and Mining in April.

He pointed to the restart of coal shipments from Kwinana as evidence of Griffin's "improving" fortunes, saying they could lift production by 1.3 million tonnes this year, taking overall production towards 5mpta.

Questions about the financial viability of Griffin have been swirling ever since Lanco bought the business for $750 million from the wreckage of Ric Stowe's empire in 2011.

There are also serious concerns about the plight of fellow Collie coal miner Premier, which has been given until the end of June by its Chinese owners to thrash out a deal with State-owned electricity provider Synergy for a higher coal price.

Conservation Council of WA director Piers Verstegen said the figures showed it would be impossible for Griffin to fund plans to lift production to 15mpta.

It would also make it difficult to build a coal export facility at Bunbury.

"I think it is clear that the proponents are flogging a dead horse," Mr Verstegen said.

"It will be very difficult to find a private sector investor."

The West Australian

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