Two blasts were made there last week as the mine deployed the first staff hired from last month’s recruitment campaign that received more than 1800 applications for the 100 jobs offered.
“This is an important milestone for Maules Creek and Whitehaven,” Whitehaven managing director and CEO Paul Flynn said.
“We have been focused on delivering the Maules Creek project for all our stakeholders including the local community for a considerable period of time. With the start of the box-cut, the transition from construction to operations is well underway, accelerating the benefits that accrue to the local region.”
At full capacity the mine is expected to employ 450 people and it is also aiming to ensure that 10% of this workforce is of indigenous descent within five years.
Last month the $767 million Maules Creek project was considered more than 50% complete and on track for first coal exports to be railed in March 2015.
The open cut project is targeting a rate of 6 million tonnes per annum of coal production over the first 12 months and has approval to ramp up to 13Mtpa run of mine.