Mitsubishi executive Kanji Nishiura with Premier Campbell Newman at Daunia Mine.
Mitsubishi executive Kanji Nishiura with Premier Campbell Newman at Daunia Mine. Kelly Butterworth

BHP vows to power up Central Queensland

COAL mining goliaths BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi are vowing to fortify their powerful suite of projects in Central Queensland, as market conditions hamper hopes of developing new operations.

Each side of the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance discussed expansions and improving productivity at the opening of BMA's $1.5 billion Daunia coal mine near Moranbah. It is BHP Billiton's ninth operation in the region.

The mine began producing coal as early as March - ahead of budget and schedule - but reporters, politicians and workers yesterday were invited to celebrate the newest addition to BMA's stable.

It was a cheerful moment amid gloomy international conditions which have cost 8000 Queensland mining jobs in the past 18 months.

By the end of next year, BMA expects to have completed its $2.5 billion expansion of Hay Point Coal Terminal and be exporting coal from its crown jewel project - the $3.6 billion Caval Ridge mine.

Once that happens, the investment of BMA's more than $7 billion into new projects for the past three years will trickle to a halt.

But BHP Billiton coal president Dean Dalla Valle said it would not be the end of BMA's spending in the region. "We've got lots of options here - we'll consider them as we go," he said.

"We have a number of expansion steps we could take. We've really got to act now on what we've built and get them running productively."

Mitsubishi senior vice president of metals Kanji Nishiura said the Japanese conglomerate was always keen to consider investments, if the deals were right.

For the moment, the focus would be on withstanding a harsh market and strengthening the mines it owns with BHP Billiton, he said.

"When and after we overcome the present situation, we are pleased to study new investment in the future, too," he said.

Beyond the boost to its exports from the region, BMA is ticking other boxes, with almost half of its 450-strong workforce new to the industry and about 5% from Indigenous backgrounds.

Mr Dalla Valle said for the 800 jobs on offer between Daunia and Caval Ridge, BMA fielded 30,000 applications.

Daunia employs 100 women.

Its entire workforce, however, is fly-in, fly-out, with recruits pulled only from Cairns and Brisbane rather than from Central Queensland.

At the formal opening Premier Campbell Newman unveiled a plaque, saying the Government was determined to encourage investment in mining.

 

WHAT IT TOOK:

To build the enormous Daunia open-cut coal mine in Central Queensland, it needed:

  • More than $1.5b (under budget by $200m)
  • 900 workers
  • 1700 tonnes of steel
  • 19,550 cubic metres of concrete
  • 3.85 million cubic metres of earthmoving
  • 70.6km of cable
  • 2.8km of pipelines
  • Two years of construction

 

WHAT IT WILL DO:

As it ramps up production, the Daunia mine will:

  • Mine 4.5m tonnes of coal per year
  • Run for 30 years
  • Send coal 160km to Port of Hay Point, south of Mackay, for export
  • Use an entirely fly-in, fly-out workforce of 450 from Cairns/Brisbane

 

EARLIER:

HUNDREDS of jobs have been created and hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Queensland, with the opening of BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's (BMA) new Daunia mine in central Queensland.

Premier Campbell Newman was at the opening and welcomed the venture and the benefits it would provide the state.

"The resources industry is one of the four pillars of the economy and with good reason, when you consider the impact this investment will have in Queensland," Mr Newman said.

"This one mine has already created 900 jobs and boosted the economy by $1.4 billion through the construction alone.

"Another 450 jobs will now support the ongoing operation of the mine, adding further benefits to the economy.



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