Operations underway at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's Caval Ridge Coal Mine.
Operations underway at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's Caval Ridge Coal Mine. Lee Constable

REVEALED: How the big Bowen Basin mines are performing

THE big miners increased production at Bowen Basin mines in last quarter of 2016, despite de-investment and shutdowns.

Increased production at key mines in the basin has help to offset the resulting losses.

Quarterly reports of Rio Tinto operations in the Bowen Basin show coking coal production was generally lower last year than in 2015, but thermal coal production rose slightly.

Strong performance at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's Bowen Basin mines, including, Broadmeadow, Saraji and Caval Ridge, underpinned by "additional stripping and higher-wash plant utilisation" helped offset adverse weather conditions and developments at the company's other mining operations, the company stated.

Rio Tinto Coal Australia states in its fourth quarter operations review, that its coking coal production was higher last year due to longwall and plant "outperformance” at its Kestrel mine.

While Anglo American Australia's activity solely in the Bowen Basin wasn't available, the company said its metallurgical coal production, excluding the impact of the divestment of Foxleigh, increased "due to production ramping up at Grosvenor, increased cutting hours and rates at Moranbah and productivity gains at Dawson”.

"These increases have been partially offset by geological issues and a subsequent longwall move at Grasstree in 4Q16,” the company stated.

Additionally, "increased thermal coal production from Hail Creek, Kestrel and Mt Thorley Warkworth partially offset lower volumes” from the restructure of Coal and Allied and its divestments.

Generally, companies offered an optimistic outlook for the year ahead, with most expecting a bump in production.

Coal being loading for transport at Hay Point.
Coal being loading for transport at Hay Point. Lee Constable

Wesfarmers also remains positive about projects, despite a small fall in coal output.

Meanwhile, output at Wesfarmers Resources' Curragh mine dropped slightly. However, figures should improve in Wesfarmers' next operations report, assuming wet weather does not have an impact on mine operations, such as in the previous quarter.

Hail Creek Coal Mine

Coking coal

  • 2015: 6,218,000 tonnes
  • 2016: 5,950,000 tonnes

Thermal coal

  • 2015: 3,245,000 tonnes
  • 2016: 3,767, 000 tonnes

Kestrel Coal Mine

Coking coal

  • 2015: 3,450,000 tonnes
  • 2016: 4,077,000 tonnes

Thermal coal

  • 2015: 637,000 tonnes
  • 2016: 846,000 tonnes

Wesfarmers Resources, Curragh Mine

Coking coal

  • 2015: 8,472,000 tonnes
  • 2016: 7,249,000 tonnes

Thermal coal

  • 2015: 3,435,000 tonnes
  • 2016: 3,371,000 tonnes

Bowen Basin mines (Goonyella Riverside, Broadmeadow, Daunia, Peak Downs, Saraji, Blackwater and Caval Ridge)

Coking coal

  • 2016: 33,400,000 tonnes
  • 2015: 33,862,000 tonnes

Anglo American Australia

Coking coal

  • 2015: 21,208,000 tonnes
  • 2016: 20,876,000 tonnes

Thermal coal

  • 2015: 12,333,000 tonnes
  • 2016: 9,511,000 tonnes


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