The team, which comprises specialist consultants with complementary skills, will initially focus on proving up a 1.5 million tonne per annum open cut thermal coal mine with first production tipped for the second half of 2013.
The BFS will cover open cut mine operations, haulage roads, coal crushing and handling, and train loading infrastructure, and is targeted for completion by December 2011.
Endocoal’s chief executive officer Tim Hedley said: “We have engaged a highly regarded team of mining industry experts to ensure we deliver the best mining layout, optimised equipment selection and most efficient infrastructure arrangements.
“Meteor Downs South has the potential to be a highly productive, low operating cost mine, with relatively low upfront capital costs, delivering at least 1.5 million tonnes per annum of direct-ship thermal coal for export.”
Mining plans will target a proposed eight to 10 year open cut project life based on the recently announced 15.4Mt of JORC-compliant resource, with 13.4Mt already in the measured category.
Meteor Downs South will provide direct-ship thermal coal for export through Gladstone port to the Asian market.
The ‘D’ seam, part of the Rangal Coal Measures, is currently being mined at the adjacent Xstrata Rolleston mine.
At MDS the seam averages 7.63 metres, with sections up to 9.5m in thickness. There is about 13m of overburden at the likely point of entry to the open cut. The average strip ratio is expected to be about 5.5:1 across the whole deposit.
Endocoal anticipates MDS will deliver very competitive, low mining unit costs utilising an optimised single excavator/truck fleet. Its scoping study for MDS, which was released in February, estimated mine-gate cash costs (average) of $27.80 per tonne.
“Endocoal believes the BFS will firm up the operating cost outcome for a high productivity open cut, utilising the mine contractor model to supply mining equipment and to operate the mine,” the company said in a statement.
“Capital expenditure requirements to provide site establishment and for accessing the Bauhinia rail line are currently being assessed.
“The focus will be on delivering the lowest capital cost per annual production tonne outcome available in this setting.”
On the MDS BFS team, the Minserve Group will handle planning, operations scheduling and costing, while the TMM Group will handle mine infrastructure and site services.
Minserve is a multi-disciplinary group of consultants with specialist expertise covering all aspects of the coal, metalliferous and extractive minerals industries from initial exploration through evaluation studies and project development to operations support.
TMM Group’s multi-disciplinary team is focused on assisting with project design and management, infrastructure services, technical services, health and safety, risk management and learning and development needs.