OPERATING CASH FLOW, FINANCIAL POSITION AND LIQUIDITY
Cash flow from operations, before changes in non-cash working capital items, was $722 million in the fourth quarter compared with $1.2 billion a year ago, with the reduction primarily a result of the effect of significantly lower coal prices in the period.
Changes in non-cash working capital items contributed $74 million of cash in the fourth quarter compared with a use of cash of $49 million in the same period a year ago. The decrease in working capital was due to the seasonal drawdown of Red Dog's product inventories.
Expenditures on property, plant and equipment were $608 million in the fourth quarter and included $225 million on sustaining capital and $383 million on major development projects. The largest component of sustaining expenditures was $75 million at our coal operations. Major development expenditures included $102 million at Highland Valley Copper for the mill modernization project, $95 million at the Quebrada Blanca hypogene project, $25 million at Relincho, $19 million for Antamina's expansion, $36 million for Quintette and $48 million at our existing coal operations to incrementally expand production.
We have committed and unused bank credit facilities aggregating $1.1 billion, the majority of which mature in 2016.
On November 19, we redeemed all US$521 million principal amount of our outstanding 10.75% senior notes due in 2019. We recorded an after-tax charge of US$259 million in the fourth quarter in connection with the redemption. After this redemption the average coupon rate on our outstanding notes is 4.8% with an average term to maturity of 16.5 years. We have now retired all of our high-yield debt and we do not expect any further significant charges on debt retirement. As a result of our debt refinancing transactions, our debt due in the next three years is approximately US$325 million.
During the quarter we purchased for cancellation approximately 3.8 million Class B subordinate voting shares for $123 million pursuant to our normal course issuer bid announced in June 2012.
We continue to experience volatile markets for our products. Commodity markets have historically been volatile, prices can change rapidly and customers can alter shipment plans. This can have a substantial impact on our business. Ongoing economic uncertainties in Europe and the United States and less robust growth rates in China, India and other emerging markets have impacted both demand and prices for some of our products. We believe that the medium to longer term fundamentals for steelmaking coal are quite favorable, although, the recent weakness in the seaborne steelmaking coal market is expected to persist for at least the first half of 2013. Markets for copper remain steady while zinc markets have shown some weakness. In the meantime, the Company's financial position is strong and we continuously monitor all aspects of our key markets as conditions evolve in order to be in a position to take whatever actions may be appropriate.
Commodity Prices and 2013 Production
Commodity prices are a key driver of our profit. On the supply side, the depleting nature of ore reserves, difficulties in finding new ore bodies, the permitting processes, the availability of skilled resources to develop projects, as well as infrastructure constraints, political risk and significant cost inflation may continue to have a moderating impact on the growth in future production. Although we are concerned about current global economic conditions, we believe that, over the longer term, the industrialization of emerging market economies will continue to be a major positive factor in the future demand for commodities. Therefore, we believe that the long-term price environment for the products that we produce and sell remains favourable.
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