Mine development at Southland no longer bottleneck

SINCE contracting company Thiess took over the operation of the Southland longwall in March last year on behalf of mine owner, Gympie Gold, roadway development has been a major focus.

Staff Reporter

In Gympie’s recently released June quarter results, it said 10,600m of development was completed during 2001-02 during which time longwall panel SL3 was fully developed.

Containing 1.7Mt of recoverable coal, SL3 is the largest longwall panel ever developed in the Greta Seam. Its extraction commenced in July.

Gympie said that as mine development was no longer a bottleneck for the operation, development for the quarter was tapered off to 2,533 metres. The continuous miner fleet has recently been reduced from four units to two and the development rate for 2002-03 is forecast to average 1,600 metres per quarter, which will still support expansion of production to more than 2mtpa within three years.

During the quarter, Southland Coal appointed Peter Hayes to the role of general manager – Coal Operations, who will be responsible for leading various projects to increase production and reduce costs at the operation.

ROM production for 2001-02 totalled 1Mt from extraction of the remnant of longwall panel SL2, essentially a profit “break-even” level of production, Gympie said. For the 2002-03 year raw coal production from Southland’s first large longwall panel is targeted to rise to over 1.5 million tonnes.

Raw coal production for the June quarter was 256,599 tonnes, slightly less than forecast as completion of the longwall changeover to the SL3 panel was delayed from June to July to facilitate additional refurbishment on the longwall.

During the quarter various projects commenced including coal washability studies to determine the potential for yield improvement at the coal preparation plant. There may be potential to bypass a sized fraction of the coal mined at Southland

Southland Coal is also looking into new processing methods for recovery of coal from reject dumps. Extensive coal reject dumps exist within the mining lease and it may be possible to recover coal from these dumps.

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