Stage 1 of the Narrabri North Project was granted approval. The project covers approximately half of Whitehaven’s Narrabri coal tenement, which is located 20km south of Narrabri in the northwest of NSW.
The Narrabri coal tenement holds 438 million tonnes of thermal coal resources, of which the Narrabri North area contains approximately 230Mt.
Construction of the Narrabri North Project will commence in early 2008, with exploration of the Narrabri South area to continue.
First coal production is expected in the fourth quarter of 2008 with a targeted annual output in excess of 6Mt per annum over a mine life of more than 30 years.
Whitehaven said Stage 2 of longwall planning was well advanced and that there was the potential for multiple longwalls.
In the Narrabri South area, which Whitehaven is still exploring, the company holds 208.7Mt of measured, indicated and inferred resources.
The company said the South area also had potential for multiple longwalls and that the Narrabri North infrastructure would service future development of the South area.
Whitehaven managing director Keith Ross said the Narrabri area was the cornerstone of Whitehaven Coal’s expansion plans.
Whitehaven plans to increase total production from its mines to 11Mtpa by the 2011 financial year.