​Russell Vale coal restarts longwall mining

Wollongong Coal’s embattled Russell Vale coal mine has recommenced longwall mining from part of its longwall-6 block.

This is a major turnaround for the mine, which has seen fading fortunes, cutting a number of jobs as it awaited approvals for the expansion of its operations.

Workers also suffered through close to two months without pay before the company was taken over by Jindal Steel.

At one point the coal miners were asked to work for $21 per hour, or face 120 job cuts.

On the back of this recommencement of extraction from the 365 metre longwall, the company is also working with its consortium of banks to obtain a Foreign Currency loan of US$630 million, over two tranches to continue operations.

Tranche A of the loan, comprising US$430 million, will be used to repay existing loans of around US$400 million and facility costs, while the US$200 million Tranche B will be used to part-finance capital expenditures.

One member of the consortium, Axis Bank has approved their input into the two tranches, consisting of US$94 million and US$44 million respectively for Tranche A and B.

Wollongong Coal CEO Jasbir Singh said he is “pleased with the recent developments, especially under tough market conditions”.

The restarting of production at the longwall will now allow the company to generate revenue while it awaits outstanding approvals for the rest of its longwall 6 block.

Image: Justin Huntsdale/ABC

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