The January floods certainly took a toll on Ensham Mine which has, after 10 months, struggled back up to 80% productivity, Ensham’s general manager of operations and CEO Peter Westerhuis told Australian Mining.
Earlier this year, Ensham’s two biggest and most productive pits were inundated with 110,000 megalitres of water.
“There were a lot of things damaged as far as infrastructure goes,” Westerhuis said.
“Roads and haul roads were damaged and buildings were washed away. So, at the beginning we had to start with repairing some of the infrastructure.
Then dewatering the mine required an enormous amount of effort. Not only was it an epic task, but it was also a task that had never before been undertaken so we were hitting road blocks every step of the way.”
Westerhuis said the mine should be fully operational by the New Year, however, with the global economy in the shape it is in, it seems the flood might not be Ensham’s only hurdle to overcome.
“We are still assessing our options for 2009,” he said.
“We are still trying to understand the changing world economy, the supply and demand for coal and where Ensham sits in all of this.
“We have a fair degree of flexibility so we are willing to adapt and change to whatever the current climate brings us. At this point in time we are looking to operate the mine normally, with our four draglines and our strip fleet.
“We hope to produce about 8 million tonnes next year.”
For the full interview with Peter Westerhuis see Australian Mining’s December edition.