The operation is owned by BHP Billiton (50%) and Mitsubishi (50%); a result of a partnership deal formed in June 2001, which generated a new entity, the BHP Billiton-Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA).
Operations at Goonyella mine date back to 1971, with the nearby and Riverside mine commissioned in 1983. In 1989, operations at Goonyella merged with those at Riverside and the combined operation became the Goonyella Riverside Mine.
Most of the 14.5 million tonnes of coking coal extracted from the operation each year comes from the Goonyella Lower Seam, with a small proportion from the Goonyella Middle Seam, which has an average thickness of 8m.
On average, the coal from Goonyella is made up of 23.5% volatile matter, 9.1% ash and 0.52% total sulphur. In June 2006, the measured-indicated-inferred resources at the mine were 976Mt coal.
The capacity of the treatment plant, which washes the coal, is 16Mtpa and the operation is ramping up to this nameplate capacity.
Coking coal from Goonyella leaves the country via Hay Point for customers in South and East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and India.
BMA said coal at Goonyella is mined using draglines, truck and shovel stripping fleets, and a shovel-conveyor system for overburden removal.
As at March 31, 2007, the truck fleet was made up of nine Komatsu 930Es, 15 Caterpillar 793s, five Caterpillar 784s and one Caterpillar 789.
Goonyella is also special in that it is one of the few mines in Australia using dump trucks with a capacity of more than 240 tonnes, namely its fleet of eight Caterpillar 797Bs, which can carry 340t and are worth $4 million each.
When these trucks were commissioned in August 2005, Goonyella was one of only five mines in the world moving enough material to warrant using trucks with this 340t capacity.
Truck bodies were manufactured at a Caterpillar facility in Mexico and each unit shipped to Australia in five pieces for assembly at a Mackay fabrication shop, a massive task in itself.
The balance of the truck components came in through the Port of Brisbane for road transport to the mine.
Each disassembled truck filled six semi trailers: two escorted trailers carrying the chassis, one heavy low loader haulage trailer for the rear axle and engine, and four trailers with other components such as the cab, suspension, brakes and transmission. Tyres and rims were sourced directly by BMA.
Among the shovels, excavators and loaders onsite are one P&H 4100A, two P&H 4100XPB, one P&H 2800 and two Terex RH170s. Dozers include eight Caterpillar D11Rs, four Caterpillar D10s and five Caterpillar D9Ns.
BMA said the coal is processed in two coal preparation plants with feed capacities of 2000 tonnes per hour at Goonyella and 1500tph at Riverside, and loaded by two train loadout systems of 4000tph and 3000tph capacity.
In July 2003, BMA announced plans for a new $102 million underground coal mine on the Goonyella lease. Named Broadmeadow, that operation began production in August 2005, and coincided with the ramping down of production at Riverside, which had exhausted its reserves.
As well as Goonyella Riverside, BMA Coal has eight other coal mines in the Bowen Basin region: Blackwater, Broadmeadow, Gregory Crinum, Norwich Park, Peak Downs, Poitrel, Saraji and South Walker Creek.
Goonyella-Riverside-Broadmeadows employs 2650 people.