Rinehart’s coal mine gets operations contractor

Development of Gina Rinehart and GVK Hancock’s $10 billion Alpha Coal Project is a step closer with the company appointing Thiess as mine operations contractor.

GVK Hancock will work with Thiess to develop a 10-year mine plan and budget after signing an Early Services Agreement last week.

GVK Group Managing Director Coal and Infrastructure Paul Mulder noted Thiess had carried out operations for the Alpha bulk sample pit for Hancock Prospecting in 2010 and is looking forward to this role to see this project become a reality.

The large Alpha Coal Project includes two coal mines in the Galilee Basin, a 495 kilometre standard gauge railway line as well as the port facilities at Abbot Point.

Last year, the project received Federal Government approval for its Terminal 3 development at the Port of Abbot Point near Bowen.

The project was expected to create 650 jobs during port construction and the Alpha mine rail and port project should produce 1800 on-going, intergenerational operational jobs and employ 4000 people during construction.

Thiess executive general manager Australian Mining Michael Wright said the company is expected to finalise the operational strategy, mine planning and management plan by the end of the year, according to a company statement.

“The next six months are a critical time for Thiess and GVK Hancock to work together to reinvigorate Australia’s position as the world leader in safe and highly productive operations.

“This means resetting the paradigm on everything from plant and equipment, local sourcing to robust employee relations. It’s about setting the tone for what will be Australia’s largest coal mine,” Wright said.

Thiess managing director Bruce Munro said the company is excited to be a part of the next phase in Alpha’s operational development.

“It’s important to the development of the Galilee Basin that we deliver efficient and flexible mining solutions that will provide certainty of delivery regardless of the commodity cycle.

“As a greenfield project, Thiess and GVK Hancock will take innovation to another level and embed industry leading technology and best practice from the early planning stages,” he said.

The first coal is expected to be extracted by 2016 at the Alpha coal mine. The mine will produce 32 million tonnes of thermal coal per year for the Asian export market.

Approval of the Alpha coal mine project last year met with protests from the Greens and Greenpeace, voicing concerns about the undesirable rise in ships passing the Great Barrier Reef.

They also voiced concerns on the negative effect this will have on the air quality and native flora and fauna.

Federal environment minister Tony Burke approved the project on the condition that it adheres to strict environmental parameters.

Burke halted the $6.4 billion coal project in June last year amid concerns over the evironmental impact on the Great Barrier Reef.

Hancock Prospecting and India-based GVK Power & Infrastructure had received environmental approval from the Queensland government.

But Burke said he lacked sufficient information to grant Federal approval for the project.

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