Oaky gets second longwall

XSTRATA Coal has given the go-ahead for the installation of a second longwall face at the Oaky Creek No. 1 mine in central Queensland.
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Oaky No 1 newmine plan

Staff Reporter

The move is expected to boost the mine’s current output of around 4.5 million tonnes per annum of coking coal to around 6.5Mtpa.

The second longwall will mine an already developed longwall block abandoned by previous management. It will also mine several areas adjacent to previously mined longwall panels containing total reserves of roughly 8Mt in panels that are around 200m wide and 500m long.

The equipment for the second face has been obtained from the Xstrata Coal-owned Cumnock mine in the New South Wales Hunter Valley. That mine stopped longwall mining operations in September 2003 and the longwall face gear has not been used since.

Management at Oaky No. 1 tagged the gear almost two years ago, in anticipation of being able to bring it to Queensland. Since then a lot of preparatory work has gone on to ready the mine for the expansion and obtain board approval.

The mine’s ventilation system is being upgraded, as well as the raw water supply system and the conveyor system. Extensive engineering assessments have also been carried out to look at the entire mine infrastructure.

Queensland chief operating officer for Xstrata Coal, Ian Cribb, paid tribute to the mine management and said it was their initiative that led to the plan being put forward and approved.

The ex-Cumnock equipment includes an Eickhoff shearer, Joy Mining Machinery 2-leg shields and AFC. Minor modifications are being made to the gear ahead of September delivery on-site for a surface mini-build with the equipment scheduled to be installed underground in October. Start-up is anticipated in January.

The mine is in the process of recruiting and training an additional 30 miners, mostly experienced operators, with roughly 25% clean skins.