Aquila finance and corporate general manager Martin Alciaturi told a broker’s conference yesterday that the first underground longwall was already under construction immediately adjacent to and downdip from BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Peak Downs mine.
He said a twin drift, twin shaft underground longwall mine feeding a coal handling and preparation plant would produce a hard coking coal product.
“The coal is assessed as low volatile, standard-grade hard coking and large sample testing is underway with a broader marketing program to commence soon,” Alciaturi said.
Production for the first longwall would peak at 5.6Mtpa and average 4.5Mtpa over the first 10 years of full production.
Hard coking coal would be targeted from three seams – Harrow Creek Upper, Harrow Creek Lower and Dysart.
The mine will be accessed via twin parallel drifts at the shallowest area of the resource, which should minimise capital cost and construction time.
Surface excavation will be by box-cut to a depth of approximately 20m, after which it will be stabilised, covered and backfilled.
The proposed 1200 tonne per hour CHPP will utilise a standard washing process – screens, dense media cyclones, spirals and flotation – and produce a hard coking coal product.
The CHPP has a potential scalability to accommodate the installation of a second longwall for up to 8Mtpa at full production from 2020.
“All major project approvals are in place: environmental approval, the mining lease was granted in August 2011, cultural heritage management plan has been executed and registered and the land compensation agreement executed,” Alciaturi said.
The contract had been awarded and work had commenced to excavate the box-cut for the underground access, he said.
Aquila’s coal program is being led by Stephen Pilcher, the former executive general manager – project development for Vale in Australia and former operations manager at Xstrata’s Oaky North longwall mine.