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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Australasia: January 14th 2004


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:: BMA to Build New Coal Handling and Processing Plant at Blackwater, Central Queensland

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) today announced plans to build a new coal handling and processing facility at the Blackwater coal mine in Central Queensland.

The A$234 million (US$180M) plant will have the capacity to process over 14 million tonnes of high quality coking and thermal coal a year.

Located adjacent to the current North preparation plant at Blackwater, the plant will enable processing of Blackwater Mine’s entire production through one centrally-located facility, and will replace the existing high cost North, South and Thermal coal plants. The new plant will substantially enhance Blackwater Mine’s ability to compete with both overseas and domestic producers through the application of advanced technology and reduced operating costs. Blackwater Mine will benefit from considerable improvements in efficiency from the new generation preparation plant, which will contribute significantly to the mine’s long-term sustainability, a major benefit for the Blackwater region.

With a construction workforce of 400, the project will also provide a significant financial boost to the Central Queensland region throughout the two-year construction period.

A small, highly specialised work team will be required to operate and maintain the new facility. This will result in a reduction in Blackwater’s workforce by 72 full time positions, with the majority of positions to be phased out towards the end of the two year construction and commissioning period. There will be no forced redundancies, and plans are in place to ensure that affected employees are provided with a number of career and training options.

One of the key benefits of the new plant will be its capacity to respond to market requirements, including an ability to optimise product quality through improved blending.

Construction of the new plant is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2004, and the facility is expected to be operational by late 2005.

BMA, which is jointly owned by BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi Development, operates seven coal mines and the Hay Point Coal Terminal in Central Queensland.

The mines have the capacity to produce more than 50 million tonnes of coal a year, which is exported to over 70 customers in 24 countries. Blackwater mine also supplies coal to domestic customers including Stanwell, NRG and QCL.




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