Whitehaven Coal’s $767 million Maules Creek mine has been officially opened by Federal Minister for Industry and Science, Ian MacFarlane.
The mine, located near Boggabri in the NSW Gunnedah Basin, began rolling coal in December 2014 and has been operating commercially since July 1 2015.
According to Whitehaven, the mine will create 500 new local jobs and inject an additional $68 million in wages into the local community each year.
“Today marks an important milestone in Whitehaven Coal’s growth and transition as a company and is a testament to the performance of our people who have worked tirelessly to deliver this project ahead of time, and under budget” said CEO, Paul Flynn.
“Today is a day where we acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the past few years, but the real story of Maules Creek and the economic opportunity it is bringing to this area is only just starting.”
All of Whitehaven Coal’s operational sites are in the North West of NSW and Whitehaven is the largest single employer in the Gunnedah Basin. Over 75 per cent of Whitehaven’s 800-strong workforce is based permanently in the local community.
Flynn said Maules Creek Mine will play a key role in powering the energy needs of North Asia and contribute to compliance with tighter global emissions standards.
Flynn said he remained positive about the long-term outlook for coal, and particularly the high quality coal being demanded by countries that understand the crucial role it has to play in helping achieve a lower emissions future.
“The outlook for coal, particularly the type of high quality, low ash, low sulphur coal we are producing at Maules Creek, is very positive. Total NSW coal export volumes have increased by 3.6 per cent over the last financial year, with Japan and Korea – Whitehaven’s key markets – continuing to be the biggest markets for NSW coal.”
1.4 million tonnes of coal was produced at Maules Creek, in the June quarter.
Whitehaven said the annualised production rate of 6 Mt was achieved at Maules Creek during the quarter, with the next expansion phase to an annualised rate of 8.5Mt planned to occur later in CY2015 as more mining equipment is introduced into the mine.