BHP Opens $3.4B Caval Ridge Mine in Central Queensland

Caval Ridge will add 5.5 million mt/y of coking coal to BHP’s portfolio.
BHP Billiton Coal President, Dean Dalla Valle, was joined by the Hon. Tony Abbott prime minister of Australia, and joint venture partner Mitsubishi in a ceremony to open the $3.4 billion Caval Ridge mine, which has created about 500 jobs in Queensland.

Caval Ridge is the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) eighth operation in the region and will initially produce up to 5.5 million metric tons per year (mt/y) of premium quality metallurgical coal. The mine was delivered below budget, and produced its first coal three months ahead of schedule.

Valle said the official opening was an opportunity for BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi to showcase a world-class new mine in Queensland, which will contribute to Australia’s coal export industry.

“Today’s opening of the Caval Ridge mine is a significant milestone for BHP Billiton. The operation will produce metallurgical coal and has been constructed with the latest technology to be one of the most productive, sustainable and highly performing metallurgical coal mines in the world,” Dalla said. “Energy efficiency is a key focus for the mine and was built into its design and management system. This includes the use of highly efficient equipment and the optimization of truck, shovel and dragline movements. This improves the efficiency of our energy use and helps minimize our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Since commencing operation, the Caval Ridge team has already achieved an Australian record for the amount of overburden moved by a shovel in one week.

Two weeks prior to the Caval opening, BMA announced the layoff of 700 workers at its central Queensland coal operations, amid a slackening market. The job losses will “deliver further cost reductions and productivity improvements and remain viable for the long term,” company representatives said in a statement; the joint venture is one of the largest exporters of met coal.

The decision follows a review of the mines indicating the number of jobs was greater than required, they added. “With our focus on productivity and global competitiveness, we continue to assess the most effective way of safely operating our assets,” BMA Asset President Lucas Dow said.

As featured in Womp 2014 Vol 11 -