Centennial Coal’s Awaba colliery to close

 Centennial Coal has announced that it will close its Awaba underground coal mine in December.

The miner had slated closure of the mine for the end of the 2011 as coal reserves will reportedly be exhausted.

According to Centennial Coal’s general manager of external affairs, Katie Brassil, the closure will bring the end of an era of mining in the region.

"The mine was originally state owned, and began operating in 1948 supplying coal to Wangi Wangi Power Station.

"In 2002 Centennial purchased the mine and over the past nine years have broadened the operations to include exports. Today, the mine supplies Eraring Power Station and services the export market," Brassil stated.

In 2010, the mine produced more than 800 000 tonnes of coal, but with reserves exhausted in the immediate area mining will cease, however the pit top infrastructure willl be used to support the proposed Newstan Lochiel project.

Awaba miner Ross Smith told the Newcastle Herald that the mine had been running out of coal for a number of years.

"It had closed down for a while and was then reopened and we’ve been going back doing pillar extraction, getting the last bits of coal out of areas that were in some cases mined many years ago," Smith said.

"It’s good quality coal, in fact we’ve been exporting some of it recently, but that’s the end of it here in the Great Northern seam.

"Centennial’s Newstan Lochiel mine will be going in through the seam underneath, us but our last shift at Awaba is on 23 December," he told the Herald.

While the Awaba coal mine has run for more than 75 years, it has always been a relatively small operation, with less than 100 employees currently working at it and a planned production of  only around 815 000 tonnes for 2011.

Eleven of the miners at the site will retire at the end of the year, while the rest will begin work at Centennial’s other Lake Macquarie mines, Brassil said.

The Newstan Lochiel project, which was formerly known as Awaba East, is adjacent to the existing Newstan coal mine, and has a potential four million tonne ROM longwall which is expected to produce around 3.2 million tonnes of saleable.

 

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