EDMS said the contract would cover three of its rigs on a full-time basis and one reverse circulation rig as required.
“Two of our recently acquired CT14 diamond coring rigs will be used on this project along with one of our large rotary rigs that has been relocated from Queensland,” EDMS said in an operational update yesterday.
The drilling company now has 11 rigs in the Gunnedah region of New South Wales as it also operates the drilling contract for China Shenhua Energy’s Watermark project, which is using seven rigs.
EDMS also won a contract to drill large-diameter bores at Xstrata’s Ulan longwall mine in the state with its recently acquired RD20 III rig. Drilling started in mid-April.
Rigs were freed up for the new contracts after a decision to withdraw from a contract with Peabody’s North Goonyella longwall mine in Queensland, based on extended downtime from unseasonal rains.
“We continue to operate on two minesites for Peabody Energy and expect to expand our operations with this client over the course of 2010,” EDMS said.
The company splashed out on a range of rigs late last year and said all of them had been delivered except the KWL 1600 rig.
This rig is due to arrive at the company’s Rutherford depot this week and is already committed to a client in the Hunter Valley.
“After a challenging third quarter, we are now enjoying 92 per cent utilisation of our surface fleet and with tendering activity remaining strong for both coal and energy work, we expect this level to be sustained for the rest of the quarter,” EDMS said.
Aston is the mining investment arm of the privately owned Tinkler Group, headed by Nathan Tinkler, a former Macarthur Coal investor and frontrunner in last year’s BRW Young Rich list.
The private company purchased the Maules Creek project for $A480 million cash.
The project has total coal resources of 398 million tonnes, according to Coal & Allied.
Aston is aiming to develop Maules Creek into a 12 million tonnes per annum open cut operation delivering premium semi-soft coking coal and low-ash export-quality thermal coal for a mine life of 20 years.
Back in February, Tinkler told Dow Jones Newswires that Aston planned to raise $200-300 million in a partial float within six months.