Austral extends Tahmoor mine life to 20 years

AN INTERIM expansion report by Brisbane-based International Mining Consultants (IMC) has shown that Austral Coal’s Tahmoor longwall mine now had a mine life of at least another 20 years, at potentially nearly double current mining rates.

Staff Reporter

Located near Wollongong in New South Wales, Tahmoor colliery has been mining the 1.9-2.3m Bulli seam since 1987. Run-of-mine production for fiscal 2000 totalled 1.572 million tonnes. Recently, Austral finalised its acquisition of the contiguous Bargo lease which contains probable in-situ reserves of 50Mt.

IMC has recommended development of the Tahmoor North reserves ahead of the Bargo area. Between the two leases, the reserves are adequate to sustain around 17 years of mining in addition to the current mine-life estimate.

Dave Thomas, principal consultant (mining) at IMC, said no major structures have been found in the Tahmoor North lease area, apart from the possibility of minor dykes. IMC’s initial mining plan projects production to continue at Tahmoor North for approximately nine years beginning in early 2004 and extracting a total of 24Mt.

The Tahmoor North lease area provides more ready access from existing mainroad development, lower development costs and increased size of longwall panels averaging 3km in length and containing 2.5Mt each.

Panel widths are currently 220m and will be extended to somewhere between 250-300m. Thomas said further drilling and stress measurements will be conducted to determine the optimal orientation for the panels, which could be shifted by up to 15 degrees.

Infrastructure requirements will include a new longwall, upgrading development equipment to increase productivity and an upgrade of conveyor capacity to maximise coal clearance.

Austral managing director Ugo Cario said the final bankable feasibility study was expected to be complete early in 2001 including detailed costing of capital requirements.

"However Austral has already begun to invest in some of the infrastructure necessary to accelerate development of Tahmoor North," he added.

See the related News story.