The third quarter of 2000 was a mixed bag in terms of production for Australia’s longwall mines. For the three month period ended September 30, 2000, Australia’s 34 longwall mines produced 19 million tonnes run-of-mine (ROM) coal off the longwall (excluding development production).
Total ROM longwall production for the previous quarter was slightly higher at 19.5Mt. If Q3 production figures were annualised, longwall production would total 76Mt, compared with actual ROM longwall production for the fiscal year ended June 2000 of 71.2Mt.
Of the six mines that topped the 1Mt mark for Q3, five are located in Queensland. These are BHP’s Crinum mine (1.518Mt), Rio Tinto’s Kestrel mine (1.321Mt), Anglo Coal’s Moranbah North mine (1.018Mt), and the two MIM mines Oaky Creek No. 1 (1.114Mt) and Oaky North (1.463Mt). Exxon/Mitsubishi mine Ulan was the only New South Wales mine to produce over a million at 1.098Mt.
Apart from Glencore, the quarter’s top longwall producers represent Australia’s major coal producers, with MIM putting in the strongest group effort. MIM’s Newlands mine produced 42% less coal this quarter, compared with Q2, but was still the sixth highest producer for the period. Newlands tonnages declined from 1.6Mt (Q2)to 929,665t (Q3).
Overall longwall ROM production (excluding development production) increased for 15 of Australia’s longwall mines, and decreased for the remaining 19. Of these 19, eight mines had longwall changeouts during the quarter. Despite a changeout in September Queensland-based Kestrel was able to increase production by 14% from 1.159Mt to 1.321Mt.
Noteable jumps in Q3 production were achieved by Ulan, which leapt from 244,714t LW ROM production in Q2 to 1.098Mt in Q3, an increase of 348%. Crinum, which produced 650,080t LW coal in Q2, was up by 133% to 1.5Mt in Q3.
Baal Bone produced 628,182t ROM coal off the longwall, up 60% on the 392,112t produced in Q2. Austral’s Tahmoor mine doubled production from 221,659t in Q2 to 483,118t in Q3 after what the company describes as vigorous restructuring. Austral expects further increases in production rates to result from the upgrade of the main conveyor belt system by year-end.
Oaky Creek No.1 produced 15% more longwall coal in Q3, while second-highest producer Oaky North was 7% down on Q2.
Production at BHP Illawarra’s Cordeaux mine, which is due to close in March 2001, declined to 138,585t (240,360t in Q2). Newstan reportedly experienced geological problems finishing off longwall face 16, which accounted for a production drop of 91%, from 634,528t in Q2 to 57,796t in Q3.
German Creek Central production declined from 631,880t to 158,388t (down 75%). Kenmare produced no longwall coal during Q3 after conditions in the A seam deteriorated and the longwall had to be recovered. (See earlier story on Kenmare). North Goonyella more than halved its production for Q3, from 835,000t in Q2 to 344,274t after difficult roof conditions impacted on production.
Gympie Gold’s Southland mine produced only 27,667t longwall coal in Q3 while the focus was on development in the Bellbird South lease area. Longwall mining began in these areas in early November and Gympie is forecasting annual production of 2 Mt in the medium term. (See related story on Gympie.)