Austar's raw coal output reached 449,900 tonnes during the year, according to Australia's Longwall Mines 2006 Review, but is now heading towards a target of 2.4 million tonnes for 2007.
In January, Austar mine management told International Longwall News that they were hopeful of increasing the mine's output to 3Mtpa over its 15-year mine life, and would eventually consider some costly upgrades to the existing drift conveyor system and infrastructure to support that growth.
The current longwall block being mined is 152m wide and the second block (due to commence mining in August this year) spans 221m.
With up to 60,000t a week now being recovered from the longwall, moving to the longer block will add further increases and less "dead time" in the mining.
The LTCC system patented by Austar's Chinese owner, Yankuang, has formed the basis of DBT's Australian version, which has emerged through a unique collaboration of Chinese and Australian technology, research and experience.
When ILN visited Austar in January, DBT special project manager Tim Clarke said the amount of expertise DBT had gained through the Austar project may be used to develop an LTCC system for other Australian mines, with Yankuang's permission.
"We believe that LTCC has a big future, with many installation opportunities here in Australia, and we wanted to be involved in that process from day one and have built a good relationship between ourselves and Yankuang," Clarke said.
Austar hasn't escaped the industry-wide challenge of recruiting skilled workers, but is now approaching full workforce numbers, currently employing 242 people.
A feature-length mine profile will appear in the March edition of Australian Longwall Magazine - out this week.