Whitehaven Coal has begun coal production at its Narrabri mine in north-west New South Wales.
When ramped up to full production, the mine is expected to produce around six million tonnes per annum of low-ash, high-energy, low-sulphur thermal coal and Pulverised Coal Injection (PCI) material.
The first of the mine’s three continuous miners began cutting coal yesterday.
Initial production from these continuous miners will be between 0.5 and 0.7 million tonnes per annum.
The remaining 5.3 million tonnes per annum will eventually be gathered through longwall mining as part of a second development stage.
“This is a very significant day for Whitehaven Coal and the broader Narrabri community,” the company’s managing director Tony Haggarty said in a statement.
“During the past three years, Whitehaven has invested approximately $227 million to deliver a modern underground mine with the highest safety levels and most efficient mining practices available.”
According to Haggarty, the condition of the ground at the project site had caused delays and increased costs when constructing the drifts to access the coal seam.
“However, the remainder of the project has been developed on time and on budget,” he said.
A rail loop and coal handling and processing equipment have also been established on site to allow transport to Newcastle for export.
According to the company, more than 120 people and 25 contracting businesses were employed during the construction and development phase.
The mine is expected to employ 208 full-time workers when it moves into full production.
Full time employment is expected to rise to 208 as the mine moves into full production.