As Gympie Gold released its September results, commissioning of the refurbished longwall mining unit at the company's Southland colliery was nearing finalisation. Southland, located near Cessnock in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, is Gympie's only coal property and was formed in 1998 when Gympie purchased the Ellalong Colliery and amalgamated it with its adjacent Bellbird South leases.
Mining in the new panel SL2 was due to begin imminently, said Gympie managing director Harry Adams, who added that this was a watershed moment for Southland, which has spent the last two years preparing for this moment. At full capacity, production is expected to be around 1.5 million tonnes per annum.
In this new part of the reserve, the Greta Seam is over 5m thick. Product yield from development in the high quality coal of the Bellbird area has been "encouraging", averaging over 90% yield with lower ash, higher fluidity of over 5000ddpm and sulphur in the order of 1% and trending lower.
Results for the quarter include ROM coal production of 56,205t, while the longwall was upgraded and moved. In addition, the coal leases have been extended by 50%, or 2000 hectares, reinforcing the company's exclusive tenure over all recoverable Greta Seam coal, the company said.
"Southland is the largest single source of high fluidity coking coal in the Hunter Valley with a current infrastructure capacity of over 2 million tonnes per year. Southland’s high fluidity, low ash coal from the Greta Seam is a superior blending coal that permits steel producers to reduce costs by substituting semi-hard coking coals for the more expensive hard coking coals."
Southland is operated by Colrok Australia.
The longwall was removed from SL1 in August to undergo a major refurbishment and upgrade. Joy Mining Machinery refurbished 62 of the 118 longwall supports over four weeks at the company's Mt Thorley operations. Other technical improvements have been the change to a more flexible and efficient rubber-tyred system for men and materials transportation. Power and compressed air supply have been upgraded, and a new ventilation shaft is fully operational.
The new longwall block SL2 is planned to a maximum length of 2km comprising 2 Mt ROM. This plan allows development of the northeastern section of SL2 while the longwall extracts coal from the developed southwestern section at the rate of 1.5Mtpa.
Gympie said good ground conditions are indicated in development roadway headings in the Bellbird South area where stable roof, rib and floor conditions have been encountered. Of great technical interest will be the first ever implementation of the Advancing Retreat Method (covered previously in ILN, see attached URL).