The rail spur will enable coal exports from the mine, owned by Gloucester Coal and Macarthur Coal, to travel through to the Dalrymple Bay coal terminal.
Middlemount Coal chairman Tim Crossley said the commencement of rail haulage was a significant milestone for the Middlemount coal project.
“Completion of the rail spur marks the commencement of ongoing operations and the progressive ramp-up of coal production by [the] project’s mining services contractor,” Crossley said.
“Initial exports from the project will be via existing port capacity allocation at DBCT, however, the project will have long term port capacity access at Abbott Point following completion of the Northern Missing Link, which is expected to be commissioned in January 2012.”
Middlemount Coal chief executive officer Michael Gray said the Middlemount Early Rail Alliance was able to complete the rail spur early, despite difficult operating conditions.
“While the project’s timing was impacted by the extensive wet season in 2010-2011, the Rail Alliance was able to accelerate development of the line, with completion occurring a month ahead of the revised schedule,” Gray said.
The Middlemount coal project is hoping to expand run of mine coal from 1.8 million tonnes per annum to up to 5.4Mtpa.
Final approval of the increased production is expected by mid-2012.