In June, AME Mineral Economics detailed possible scenarios for future mine planning at the German Creek operations in Queensland.
Closure of Southern Colliery is slated for around 2004 but there are two potential additional mining areas. The main one is expansion across the Oaky Creek (MIM) boundary where up to three years of additional coal could be available up to a fault. Fault definition in the area is poor as yet – hence there is considerable uncertainty regarding the number of longwall panels that would be available up to the fault. Mining in this area could push back closure to as late as 2007.
At Central, the German Creek seam extends out well ahead of the currently blocked out mine plan, albeit at increasing depth. Joint venture approval appears likely to extend the mine further out into these deeper areas, as happened in 1997. This would presumably depend on mine performance in the interim. This may extend the mine's life as far out as 2010.
The Grasstrees project appears likely to proceed with mining of the German Creek seam to use the longwall from Southern Colliery when that mine eventually closes. Access will be from the opencast highwall but will involve substantial drivage through a volcanic intrusion prior to developing longwall panels. The overlying Aquila seam may also eventually be mined – the coking properties are good but the seam is thin and includes a parting so dilution would be high. The Aquila is probably too thin (1.6m in ‘Queensland Coals’) for longwall mining but other methods are being looked at.