Red Hill was put on ice as a separate mine development by the company as it sought to rationalise its central Queensland operations.
It is now being slated as a resource for Broadmeadow and the nearby Goonyella Riverside mines.
“Red Hill … was a greenfields project study, which we ceased against a backdrop of a challenging market environment last year,” a BHP Billiton spokeswoman told ILN.
“However, BMA is still undertaking an environmental impact statement process for the Red Hill mining lease project.
“BMA will continue to seek environmental and mining lease statutory approvals for MLA 70421 (Red Hill) as this will help enable and sustain mining activities within the existing mine complex, which includes Goonyella Riverside and Broadmeadow mines.”
The existing Broadmeadow mine, which extracts the Goonyella middle seam, is being expanded eastwards into MDL 307.
Conventional longwall mining practices have been used for its operations within ML 1763, as has LTCC technology, where its feasibility is being proven as a means to improve the levels of resource recovery compared to conventional longwall mining methods.
BHP Billiton’s $US900 million Broadmeadow life extension project using LTCC techniques has achieved first production, ahead of schedule in the March quarter.
The extension at the Queensland mine increases productive capacity of the mine by 400,000 tonnes per annum and extends life of the mine by 21 years.
As of the end of March the project was 99% complete, the company said in its latest quarterly production update.
LTCC equipment has arrived at Broadmeadow – which is a punch longwall, underground coal mine 190km southwest of Mackay.
It will progressively transition from a conventional longwall operation to the LTCC method to increase productivity.
LTCC – which is being used at Yancoal’s Austar mine and will be soon installed at Peabody Energy’s North Goonyella mine in Queensland – offers safety and productivity advantages, especially in mines with seams wider than 4m.
BMA expects production to increase from 16 million tonnes per annum to 24Mtpa of coal products for the expanded Goonyella Riverside complex.