THE BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) hopes to defy the coal market’s gloomy outlook after officially opening its US$3.4 billion project, Caval Ridge.
BHP Billiton Coal president Dean Dalla Valle said the mine’s opening – attended by Prime Minister Tony Abbott – was an opportunity for BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi to “showcase a world class new mine in Queensland, which will contribute to Australia’s coal export industry”.
“Today’s opening of the Caval Ridge Mine is a significant milestone for BHP Billiton,” he said at the October ceremony.
“The operation will produce metallurgical coal for the steel industry and has been constructed with the latest technology to be one of the most productive, sustainable and highly performing metallurgical coal mines in the world.”
Caval Ridge is the joint venture’s eighth operation in Queensland’s Bowen Basin and is expected to initially produce up to 5.5 million tonnes per annum of metallurgical coal.
The project was delivered below budget, and produced its first coal three months ahead of schedule. The opening was held in the aftermath of significant job cuts across the coal industry; BHP alone axed some 700 jobs from its Queensland coal operations in the preceding months.
Mr Dalla Valle said the company had made some difficult decisions to ensure its coal operations remained sustainable. “We are confident that if we maintain our productivity focus then we will continue to have a globally competitive business that will provide employment opportunities for generations to come,” he said.
“We have invested considerably in recruiting and training new entrants to the coal industry who will work alongside some of our experienced operators,” Mr Dalla Valle said. BMA is the Bowen Basin’s largest employer with a workforce of more than 7000 people.