Waratah reaches 7.4Bt

WARATAH Coal’s drilling has unearthed an additional 3.48 billion tonnes of in situ coal resources at the North Alpha project, bringing the private company’s total thermal coal resources in Queensland’s undeveloped Galilee Basin to 7.4Bt.
Waratah reaches 7.4Bt Waratah reaches 7.4Bt Waratah reaches 7.4Bt Waratah reaches 7.4Bt Waratah reaches 7.4Bt

The Galilee Basin.

Blair Price

“Our resource is now the biggest in the Galilee Basin,” Waratah chairman and Queensland billionaire Clive Palmer said.

“Phil McNamara and his team have done a tremendous job turning this vision into a reality.”

North Alpha lies 40km north of Waratah’s flagship $A7.5 billion China First project and Palmer said the North Alpha and West Alpha projects would benefit from the planned China First infrastructure.

Palmer added that while the company was mainly focused on China First, it continued to extensively drill at North Alpha and West Alpha.

“The combined projects will be of enormous economic benefit to Queensland and the entire nation.”

Waratah managing director Phil McNamara, who took over from Waratah founder Peter Lynch last week after he resigned for family reasons, said the company was making a submission to be the preferred developer of the X80 and X110 export coal terminals at Abbot Point.

Suitably named, the X80 expansion will lift throughput capacity to 80 million tonnes per annum, while the X110 will lift it to 110Mtpa. Construction to expand the Abbot Point Coal Terminal to 50Mtpa is targeting completion in 2011.

“Each of the 30 million tonne per annum capacity terminals are expected to cost about $2 billion and will provide common-user access,” McNamara said.

Waratah’s plans for export facilities include the construction of a 2Mt stockyard, two ship berths with 10,000 tonne per hour ship loaders, 8000tph outloading conveyors and capacity for 200,000t (dead weight) Capesize vessels.

While rival Galilee Basin coal player Hancock Coal is yet to lure a cashed-up project partner, Metallurgical Corporation of China entered into a joint venture with Waratah last year and arranged 70% of the China First project finance in November.

The China First project is targeting 40Mtpa with first thermal coal expected in the third quarter of 2013.

The open cut operations of the project are expected to use four draglines with prestripping to begin in 2012, while four longwalls are also planned with each producing 9Mtpa.

One of the major costs will be the development of a 495km rail system linking the operation to a new port at Abbot Point, and featuring a heavy haul 1435mm standard gauge system.

During peak construction the JV plans to house 6000 construction employees near the site and have 1500 fly-in, fly-out permanent employees.

The site will also feature a 1.8km airstrip capable of landing a jet liner.

Waratah plans to purchase six complete train sets comprising four 4500hp locomotives and 180 wagons. Each train will be capable of hauling 21,240t.

Hancock, led by Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart, is undertaking a bankable feasibility study for its Alpha and Kevin’s Corner projects in the Galilee Basin.

Alpha and Kevin’s Corner are targeting 30Mtpa each at full production and hold a combined 4.1Bt of resources, while Hancock is aiming to prove up 6.1Bt.