Whitehaven Coal has slumped to a net loss after tax of $47 million in the first half of 2012-13 and cancelled its interim dividend.

The coal miner was hit by a raft of problems including weaker coal markets, the high dollar, last year's train derailment at Boggabri, and costs associated with the delayed approval of its controversial Maules Creek mine. 

Whitehaven shares dropped to 8 cents or 2.7 per cent to $2.92 in early trade this morning. 

Revenues for the half-year ended December 31 slumped 18 per cent, year-on-year, to $281 million, while recurrent earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation fell 86 per cent to $8.2 million.

Saleable coal production jumped 56 per cent to 3.5 million tonnes during the half, but this was offset by a fall in average realised coal prices from $US108 a tonne to US$92 a tonne in the previous corresponding period,

This was in part to coal quality linked to moisture in product from the new Narrabri longwall mine.

Outgoing chief Tony Haggarty said significant work had been undertaken across the company to minimise the impact of the commodity cycle.

"While we are already well placed on the cost-curve, we are continuing to review our open cut operations to identify opportunities to further reduce costs and enhance operating performance and revenue.

"As outlined previously, our small and relatively high-cost Sunnyside open cut mine was placed on care and maintenance in November 2012. The accounting treatment of closure related costs has contributed a loss of approximately $20 million to our overall result.

"The ramp up of our Narrabri longwall production progressed well through the later stages of the first half. Ensuring that Narrabri meets consistent high production rates remains a key focus for our business.

"Higher than anticipated moisture in the Narrabri thermal coal has had a negative impact on our revenue, and while this issue will diminish as production increases, a number of operational actions are being taken to reduce moisture levels in the product coal."

Mr Haggarty, who will be replaced after Easter by Whitehaven director Paul Flynn, said following the recent approval of the Maules Creek mine, and regardless of external factors Whitehaven remained on track to becoming a 25 Mtpa coal producer.