Whitehaven says the longwall will have a 300m face, with a capacity of up to 8 million tonnes per annum and able to be retrofitted for LTCC at a later date.
While Narrabri already has development equipment from Joy Mining Machinery, Bucyrus does supply equipment capable of LTCC, which is currently used at Yancoal Australia’s Austar operation in NSW.
Delivery is expected in October 2010, while the longwall is expected to start cutting coal in January 2011, subject to stage 2 planning approvals from the state government.
Whitehaven said the signing of the contract followed a detailed competitive tender process for the design, construction, installation and commissioning of the longwall.
Initial production from the mine is 700,000tpa using continuous miners and development crews are expected to reach the coal seams late this year.
Second stage development aims to have the longwall installed in early 2011 to ramp up to 6Mtpa.
Last month Whitehaven agreed to sell a 7.5% stake of the Narrabri Joint Venture to a Korean consortium for $125 million, plus $11 million in costs and 7.5% of the future costs of the project.
The consortium comprises manufacturing, investment and trading conglomerate Daewoo International Corporation and government-owned Korea Resources Corporation (Kores).
Once all approvals have been given, the deal will leave Whitehaven with a 70% stake in Narrabri, while other joint venture partners Electric Power Development, EDF Trading and Upper Horn Investments will hold 7.5% each.
Shares in Whitehaven shed A4c to $3.73 this morning.