BHP plans to seek approval for an extension of operations at the Mount Arthur thermal coal mine in New South Wales to 2045 despite recent efforts to sell the asset.
The company is seeking state and federal development and environmental approvals to keep Mt Arthur active after the current open cut approval expires on June 30 2026.
In line with BHP’s plan to divest its thermal coal assets, the company’s decision to extend Mt Arthur’s life flags that mine ownership or control could change in the coming years.
“As announced in August 2020, BHP is assessing options to divest its thermal coal assets, including Mt Arthur Coal, to focus its portfolio on higher quality metallurgical coal,” BHP stated.
“This means Mt Arthur Coal’s ownership or operating control could change in the coming years.”
BHP stated the approval process required a comprehensive assessment and review and engagement with the local community and key stakeholders.
In November 2020, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) reported that BHP had cut jobs at the mine.
The group stated that BHP subsidiary, Operations Services decreased its workforce by 110 employees from 160.
BHP now employs around 2000 people at the Mt Arthur mine, and expects the approvals to allow for the employment of 2600 people.
To extend the mine’s operations, BHP stated that minor extensions to the existing mining infrastructure would be required.
This includes extensions to the workshops, stockpiles, electricity distribution and other ancillary infrastructure, which will see Mt Arthur extended further to the west of the nearby town of Muswellbrook.
BHP stated this would not alter its existing and approved hours of operation or coal transportation.
The miner’s previous attempts to sell Mt Arthur were unsuccessful after failing to find a suitable bidder.
Yancoal Australia and Bravus Mining & Resources (formerly Adani) were among the bidders allegedly rejected.
“Yancoal considers acquisitive growth opportunities as they arise, such as BHP’s thermal coal assets, and is committed to only acquiring appropriately priced assets of genuine future value,” a Yancoal spokesperson told Australian Mining in July 2020.