Australia’s 34 longwall mines produced 81.907 million tonnes of raw coal (including development coal) for the year. The figures are slightly up on the fiscal year figures (July 1999-June 2000), which totaled 79.95Mt.
The figures also show that Queensland’s 11 faces (32% of the total number of longwalls) produced 47% of Australia’s longwall coal, or 34.3Mt. The 23 NSW longwall faces (68% of the total longwalls) produced 39.45Mt, or 53% of total longwall production. In addition, the top five performers for calendar 2000 were all Queensland longwall mines. See the related table.
The top five producers for the calendar year were Crinum (4.88Mt longwall coal); MIM’s Newlands mine (total ROM 4.79Mt, 4.4Mt longwall coal); Anglo Coal’s Moranbah North (4.6Mt, 4.22Mt longwall coal); MIM’s Oaky North (4.59Mt, 4.15Mt longwall coal); and Rio Tinto’s Kestrel mine (4.44Mt, 4.19Mt longwall coal).
In order of tonnages the line-up compared with the fiscal year 1999-2000 has shifted marginally. To June 2000 the top five were Newlands, Crinum, Oaky Creek, Moranbah North and Kestrel.
Glencore’s NSW-based South Bulga mine continues to perform well. The mine produced 4.27Mt (3.76Mt longwall coal) to December 2000, the sixth highest producer.
In the 3Mtpa range, MIM’s Oaky Creek No 1 produced 3.8Mt (3.4Mt longwall coal), close to budgeted 4Mt. Anglo Coal’s Dartbrook mine produced 3.76Mt (3.45Mt longwall coal), close to its budgeted 3.8Mt. Wambo came close to breaking 3Mt during the period, delivering nearly 300,000t more than its budgeted 2.7Mt. Wambo has around 5Mt remaining in the current workings and new owners Hunter Coal indicated mining may not continue beyond panel 13 (Wambo is currently mining panel 11).
For the full year ended December 2000, eight mines produced close to their 2000 annual forecast figures but 21 produced less than forecast. Five mines produced more than forecast, noteably BHP’s Crinum mine and MIM’s Oaky North mine, which both produced almost 700,000t above forecast. Crinum was also the year’s top performer, producing 5.2Mt (4.9Mt longwall coal). Oaky North produced 4.59Mt (4.15Mt longwall coal) for the calendar year.
In NSW, Glencore’s Cumnock mine produced 2.74Mt, about 160,000t over forecast while the New Wallsend No 2 mini-wall was about 100,000 over budget, producing 1.32Mt.
The next major production hurdle for Australia’s longwalls will be breaking the 6Mt mark which could possibly be achieved this year. Mines which have set this production target for 2001 include Oaky North, Newlands and Moranbah North.
Moranbah North probably has the best chance of being the first Australian mine to break 6Mtpa. Anglo is anticipating better ground conditions ahead of the longwall face and a reduction in the ground control problems that have plagued production over the last two years. After steady production improvements, Kestrel is another mine to watch, with a 2001 budget of 5Mt.
The top five producers for the final quarter ended December 2000, (See the related table), were Moranbah North (ROM total) 1.512Mt; Crinum 1.192Mt; West Wallsend 1.190Mt; Dartbrook 1.035Mt; and South Bulga 982,000t. Kestrel produced 976,000t, followed by Oaky North on 939,000t.