In its September quarterly report Cockatoo said exploration and base line environmental monitoring were being progressed and discussion with the local community – which includes Hollywood movie star Nicole Kidman – was continuing
“During the quarter, the company, as manager for the Hume project, consolidated the dedicated project team and progressed recruitment of further professional staff to expand the capabilities of the project development team,” it said.
“Liaison with community, government and stakeholders has been initiated and remains ongoing.”
One multipurpose drill rig is operational on the Hume project, having now completed 24 holes for 2774m. The first phase of drilling, which involves cored and open holes, as well as water monitoring bores has focused on the north-western area of the project.
“The aim of the first drilling phase is to deliver hydrogeological, structural, coal quality and geotechnical data,” Cockatoo said. “The data will contribute to a better understanding of the viability of a potential underground coal operation.”
Geological modelling of historic data has been prepared and exploration drilling activities in the Hume project aims to validate historical drilling and confirm coking coal quality characteristics of the Wongawilli seam.
The extent and quality of the underlying Tongarra seam is also being investigated.
Cockatoo’s Baralaba open-pit mine in Queensland is almost back to normal after it was affected by severe flooding, with production during the September quarter landing at 104,296t up from 22,909t in the June quarter.
Sales from the mine also skyrocketed, rising to $51,870 at the end of September compared to $29,585 in the previous quarter.
Cockatoo said the jump in sales was due to shipments of PCI coal to long term customers being restored.
During the quarter, Cockatoo worked on restoring the operation of the Baralaba mine following the Queensland floods in December last year.
Cockatoo said approximately 40% of the quarterly coal production was from the month of September, while production during the month of October had continued to show improvement.
Access to the Baralaba mine was also affected in May this year after flooding of the nearby Dawson River blocked road transport to the mine, temporarily halting production.
Meanwhile, full exploration and development drilling of its Surat Basin projects returned to normal during the quarter after they were hampered by wet weather in previous months.
Cockatoo upgraded the JORC-complaint resource of its Surat Basin tenements by 17%, from 1357Mt to 1584Mt.
Drilling activities at the area consisted of geotechnical and overburden characterisation testwork which would help provide information for prefeasibility studies.
Cockatoo said these activities would continue over the remainder of the year.
Cockatoo was also among a number of coal miners that secured port access to the Wiggins Island coal export terminal in Gladstone during the quarter, acquiring three million tonnes per annum of port allocation.
Stage 1 of the terminal is expected to be completed by mid-2014 and is targeting 27Mtpa of capacity.