BHPB Queensland coal mines set record

BHP BILLITON has recorded strong growth in its metallurgical coal business for the December quarter, with Queensland mines setting a new record.
BHPB Queensland coal mines set record BHPB Queensland coal mines set record BHPB Queensland coal mines set record BHPB Queensland coal mines set record BHPB Queensland coal mines set record

Dendrobium mine, BHP Billiton, NSW

Staff Reporter

A record 9.6 million tonnes was produced by the company’s metallurgical coal producing sites, a 14% improvement on the previous December quarter and 4% higher than the September 2004 quarter.

The company’s Queensland coal sites had a record quarter. BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) mines produced 6.2Mt of met coal from Blackwater (1.7Mt), Goonyella (1.3Mt), Peak Downs (1.2Mt), Saraji (812,000t), Norwich Park (680,000), and Gregory joint venture (565,000t).

BHP Mitsui mines produced 1.8Mt from Riverside (951,000t) and South Walker Creek (871,000t).

During the quarter 8Mt of metallurgical coal was shipped comprising 5.8Mt coking coal, 1.7Mt weak coking coal and 527,000t thermal coal.

Illawarra mines produced 1.6Mt and shipped 1.6Mt coking coal and 144,000t thermal coal.

BHPB said performance by Illawarra Coal mines had improved following longwall changeouts at Appin and Elouera and the end of industrial activity at Elouera in the September 2004 quarter.

The company’s energy coal division produced 21.4Mt, 7% higher than the December 2003 quarter.

“This primarily reflects lower production in the December 2003 quarter at New Mexico Coal (USA), due to a planned major outage at a customer’s power plant and a longwall move at San Juan underground,” BHPB said.

Production dropped 8% compared with the September 2004 quarter, primarily due to safety interventions at Ingwe’s (South Africa) Douglas mine, adverse weather conditions at Cerrejon Coal (Colombia) and the impact of an excavator fire at Hunter Valley Coal in the previous quarter.

During the quarter the company’s South African operations produced 13.7Mt of steam coal, USA mines produced 3.7Mt, Australian mines produced 2.2Mt and Columbian mines 1.7Mt.

BHP Billiton’s Dendrobium project in NSW remains on schedule for a mid 2005 start-up.

Work completed during the quarter includes the mine surface facilities, ventilation shaft, washery upgrade and Kemira Valley Rail Coal Loading facilities. Process commissioning of the first module of the thermal drier and mining development for longwall 1 are progressing, the company said.

It also revised development costs for the mine to a figure of US$200 million.