Beltana king again

FOR the third year running, Beltana has topped the table as the highest producing longwall in Australia. The mine not only managed to come out number one in 2006, but managed to top its nearest rival by almost 2 million tonnes.
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Chris Harvie of Datem Moore, right, is welcomed to the company by chief executive John Moore.

Angie Tomlinson

The Hunter Valley mine, owned by Xstrata Coal, produced 6.94Mt for the year, only a small decrease on 2005 and 2005-06 figures.

Once again Beltana was the only New South Wales mine in the top five, but three other New South Wales mines managed to round out the top 10.

Queensland mine Oaky Creek No. 1, another Xstrata operation, came out in second place while Oaky North took the bronze.

Oaky Creek No. 1 produced 4.95Mt, a 20% improvement on 2005. Oaky North's 4.92Mt was up slightly on last year’s results.

Still in Queensland, the fourth biggest producer for 2006 was Newlands Northern with 4.5Mt. The Xstrata-owned operation's longwall ramped up in February 2006 after relocating from the Southern operation where reserves were depleted.

Newlands’ output was down on the 5.6Mt Xstrata had forecasted, but the mine is sure to improve as it plans a wider face on its 400 series blocks due to be mined in 2012.

Rio Tinto’s Kestrel operation took fifth spot in this year's rankings with 4.48Mt ROM coal, consistent with 2005.

Always a consistent performer, Kestrel is now looking to increase output by widening the longwall face for its 400 series blocks due to be mined in 2012 to extract the remaining 150Mt of coal in the mining lease.

Rounding out those breaking the 4Mt ROM coal mark was Anglo Coal’s Moranbah North operation in Queensland with 4.46Mt. The mine had experienced a shocking end to its year with roof falls and its safety under scrutiny.

New mines on the list in 2006 included Yancoal Australia’s Austar, which ramped up in September 2006 and produced 449,900t; Delta (formerly Eloura), which ramped up in June 2006 with 523,600t; and Grasstree, which began longwall mining in September 2006.

Australia's longwall mines produced 80.58Mt ROM coal during 2006, ever so slightly up on 2005 when the mines produced 79.84Mt, according to Coal Services’ annual statistical review.

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