Oaky North reigns supreme

OAKY North has completely overtaken Newlands Northern to become Australia’s longwall production leader with output of 8.74 million tonnes run-of-mine in 2010.
Oaky North reigns supreme Oaky North reigns supreme Oaky North reigns supreme Oaky North reigns supreme Oaky North reigns supreme

Image courtesy of Xstrata.

Blair Price

Newlands Northern was the production king of 2009 with 8.7Mt ROM, but it lost pole position as output slipped 5.6% to 8.21Mt last year.

Oaky North’s strong run was evident when it became the dominant producer for the 2009-2010 financial year with a sky-high result of 9.69Mt ROM.

The outstanding performances from the two Xstrata-operated mines signal the potential to surpass an elusive annual result of 10Mt ROM in coming years.

Achieving such a feat might require more than technical innovation, however, given the wild-card impact of Queensland’s weather over recent months.

A separate pack of four longwall mines all had production exceeding annual ROM output of 5Mt.

But it was Oaky North’s nearby Oaky Creek No. 1 mine which came in third place with production of 5.57Mt last year, giving Xstrata Coal Queensland the top three positions of 2010.

Anglo American Metallurgical Coal’s Moranbah North mine was close behind, claiming fourth spot with total ROM output of 5.52Mt.

Notably, the Moranbah North longwall produced 5.31Mt compared to the Oaky Creek longwall’s 5.29Mt, but Oaky Creek produced 65,000 tonnes more from development, which reached 277,000t in 2010.

Rio Tinto’s Kestrel mine is creeping up the ladder with 5.37Mt produced last year.

The mine is aimed to ramp up to 5.7Mt per annum from 2012, and has already improved its annual raw coal output 23% in 2010.

The top performer of New South Wales, and ranked sixth overall, was Centennial Coal’s Mandalong longwall mine, which reached 5.33Mt last year.

Xstrata’s Ulan in the state was the next-placed longwall mine with 4.97Mt. This mine is facing a difficult 2011 as efforts continue to dewater underground workings caused by torrential rain in February.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Crinum East mine in Queensland hit 4.93Mt, while Peabody Energy’s North Wambo mine in NSW produced 4.81Mt.

The combined Beltana and Blakefield South operations in the Upper Hunter Valley produced 4.5Mt.

Production has continued for longer than anticipated at the legendary and almost-retired Beltana mine, as the Blakefield South mine remains suspended after an underground fire in early January.

The production data was provided by Coal Services.