Coal production has started at the Kestrel Mine Extension, a US$ 2 billion project near Emerald in central Queensland.
The extension will add 20 years to the life of the Kestrel Mine, Rio Tinto’s only underground coal operation. The company has operated the mine since 1999.
Construction of the Kestral South extension began in August 2008 and will be completed in September 2013. It has taken more than 6 million man hours to build and more than 3400 t of steel have been used.
The mine has an estimated 115 million t in coal reserves.
General manager of operations, John Coughlan, said “After four years of construction, seeing the longwall cutting coal is an exciting milestone and marks the start of a long future for Kestrel Mine. We expect to see our first shipment [of metallurgical coal product] from this new area of the mine leave Australia in coming weeks.”
“Over the coming year and a half we’ll see a gradual transition of production as our existing operation, known as Kestrel North, winds down and the new Kestrel South operation ramps up. Kestrel South is expected reach full capacity by the end of 2014 and produce an average of 5.7 million tpa over the next 20 years.”
As part of the extension project, a new longwall was constructed at the nine, while infrastructure (including a 7.9 km overland conveyor, carrying 3500 tph of coal) was also upgraded. The extension work allows a new series of underground panels to be mined to the south of the existing operation.
“Our new 375 m longwall was fully assembled for testing on the surface before being pulled back apart to go underground. This longwall will deliver a range of safety and production improvements, including automation” Coughlan said.
Kestrel Mine’s main export customers are in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Europe, India and China.
Coal trains from the project will carry 8400 t of coal, travelling 300 km from the Kestrel Mine to the Port of Gladstone.
Rio Tinto Coal Australia manages Kestrel Mine on behalf of the joint venture partners Queensland Coal Pty Limited and Mitsui Kestrel Coal Investment.Adapted from press release by Samuel Dodson
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/coal/12072013/coal_production_begins_at_kestrel_mine_extension_264/