The expansion will increase export metallurgical coal sales from the current 6.5-7 million tonnes per annum to 8-8.5Mtpa from late 2011, subject to market conditions.
The Thiess contract will result in an ultra-class fleet being used, with the mine set to operate some of the largest earthmoving equipment in Australia from mid-2011.
Wesfarmers Resources managing director Stewart Butel said the contract would achieve cost efficiencies by upscaling to a larger fleet of equipment.
“From mid-2011 we will see the deployment of a new Bucyrus 495HR electric shovel, which will be the first of its kind to be used in Australia. It will operate in conjunction with a fleet of Liebherr 282C ultra-class trucks each with a 360-tonne capacity, which will be the first of their kind to be used in Queensland,” he said.
Wesfarmers said with the new contract, as well as construction of a new coal handling plant underway and rail and port capacity in place, it would be well placed to take advantage of the forecast increase in seaborne metallurgical coal demand.
Wesfarmers was trading up 1.4% at $A29.67 in early morning trade today.