As market conditions worsened and the outlook for a recovery faded, we took decisive action on a number of fronts to minimise the rise in debt levels and lessen the impact of the increased leverage. At the start of the year, capital expenditure in 2019 was expected to be US$590 million. Through a careful process of re-evaluating the priority and timing of various projects, total spend for the year was reduced to US$471 million. We have also adjusted down our expansionary capital spending plans for 2020, effectively reducing this to projects under way or already committed. Maintenance, safety and environmental spend were unaffected as we seek to ensure the sustainability of the company. Production downtime was taken as required in the graphics paper segment in order to minimise inventory levels and working capital, resulting in strong cash generation in the latter part of the year.
We continuously evaluate opportunities to extend debt maturities and lower finance costs. We refinanced the 2022 Euro bond early in the year, lowering the interest charge and extending maturities. This has meant we have a comfortable liquidity position, with no major maturities due before 2023, a low average interest rate and flexible liquidity from cash on hand and undrawn revolving credit facilities. In the fourth quarter, we renegotiated the leverage covenant for our European revolving credit facility and some of our bank term debt, due to current market uncertainty and particularly with regards DWP pricing, to provide further headroom. This renegotiation resulted in increased headroom over the expected peak leverage periods, moving the maximum leverage level from 3.75 times net debt:EBITDA to 4.5 times.