The stacker reclaimer and stockpiles at Kestrel Mine, with extension work visible in the distance.
The stacker reclaimer and stockpiles at Kestrel Mine, with extension work visible in the distance.

Mining industry powers on with growth across Central Qld

ALMOST $13 billion in coal projects are being built in Central Queensland, even as the world's multi-national mining firms release trickles of information on cost-cutting and job losses.

Hit by a global fall in coal prices and the increasing cost of doing business in Queensland, coal giants have sliced contractors and staff from projects.

But the region is far from surrendering to the tumbleweeds.

Three new mines, two extensions and one giant port expansion in the Bowen Basin have Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance shelling out billions in an apparently difficult time.

These six illustrate how the industry is powering on.

Rio's Kestrel Mine expansion was announced in 2007 but it was still an astonishing project by the numbers.

From first sod to completion in 2013, the $2 billion Kestrel will have provided jobs for more than 1100 workers between the still-operating mine and its expansion work.

A Rio spokeswoman said the extension alone had taken "4.2 million man hours so far and more than 3000 tonnes of steel had been used".

Anglo American's $1.7 billion Grosvenor project only started building in June with first coal to be mined by late next year, however underground mining would not start until 2016.

Grosvenor will supply more than 1000 jobs during construction and operation.

It will need 3000 tonnes of structural and reinforcing steel, 13,000 cubic metres of concrete and take estimated four million man hours to build.

BMA has perhaps the most ambitious schedule with expansions of Hay Point Coal Terminal and Broadmeadow Mine worth a combined $3.4 billion.

Add that to the building of its two new mines - $4.2 billion on Caval Ridge and the $1.6 billion for Daunia - and it amounts to more than $9.2 billion worth of construction.

BHP Billiton chips in half of the funds for its projects, with the rest funded by alliance partner Mitsubishi.

Earlier this year, BMA shuttered its Norwich Park and Gregory mines when they stopped making money.

However, the giant was clearly looking beyond the horizon when it green-lit this fleet of emerging projects during the boom times.

Daunia will employ about 1000 during construction and 450 once it starts running in 2013.

Hay Point's expansion will have used 1000 workers by the time it is finished in 2014.

Caval Ridge will need 2000 to build and another 500 to operate when it starts mining in 2014.

Federal Mines Minister Martin Ferguson told APN on Monday that investment remained strong but prices needed to be kept down.

"There is currently $270 billion in the committed capital investment pipeline," he said.

"Our future earnings will not be based on record commodity prices, rather on increased volumes resulting from our being able to deliver projects in a cost effective manner."

The Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) at Kestrel Mine. This is currently being upgraded as part of the extension project.
The Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) at Kestrel Mine. This is currently being upgraded as part of the extension project. MCP

Kestrel (expansion)

Rio Tinto
Value: $2b
Jobs: 1100 (construction and operation)
To open: 2013

Grosvenor (new)

Anglo American
Value: $1.7b
Jobs: 1000 (construction/operation)
To open: 2013/2016

Daunia (new)

BMA
Value: $1.6b
Jobs: 1000 (construction), 450 (operating)
To open: 2013

Caval Ridge (new)

BMA
Value: $4.2b
Jobs: 2000 (construction), 500 (operating)
To open: 2014

Broadmeadow (expansion)

BMA
Value: $900m
Jobs: TBA
To open: 2013

Hay Point (port expansion)

BMA
Value: $2.5b
Jobs: 1000 (construction)
To open: 2014

TOTAL VALUE: 12.9b



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