BHP dumps plans for another 3 coal mines

BHP Billiton has canned plans to build the massive Red Hill and Saraji East coal developments in Queensland, citing a "challenging external environment" for the cutback.

Study on the two expansions has been shelved and BMA has withdrawn the projects from the Federal Government's environmental approvals process.

The move follows a blanket statement in the company's profit announcement earlier this year that no major projects would be approved in 2012-13.

BMA previously said the Red Hill project would employ 3,000 contractors during peak construction and up to 1,500 workers and contractors during peak operations.

It slated a further 2,500 contractors for peak construction of the Saraji East project, and around 1,400 workers for the development during peak operations.

Company documents say Saraji East was expected to produce 14 million tonnes of metallurgical coal and construction work was planned to start in 2015.

The Saraji East project was planned to be adjacent to BMA's existing Saraji open-cut operation, and as part of the development the company had plans to build two greenfield underground mines, a new rail loop, and a swathe of associated infrastructure.

The Red Hill development was also expected to produce 14 million tonnes of coking coal a year, with construction on the site 30 kilometres north of Moranbah planned for late 2015.

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