QUEENSLAND’S newest metallurgical coal mine has opened four months ahead of schedule and about US$250 million under budget.
BHP Billiton Coal president Dean Dalla Valle was joined by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and joint venture partner Mitsubishi to open its US$1.4 billion, 4.5 million tonne per annum Daunia coal mine in central Queensland.
Construction of the Daunia mine started in 2011 and was completed in July.
Mr Dalla Valle said the continued ramp up of Daunia and scheduled commissioning of the Caval Ridge mine – due for completion next year – would increase the capacity of BHP’s Queensland coal business to 66mtpa by the end of 2014.
The company had received more than 30,000 applications for about 900 positions at the two mines.
“The resources industry is one of the four pillars of the economy and with good reason, when you consider the impact this investment will have in Queensland,” Mr Newman said.
“This one mine has already created 900 jobs and boosted the economy by $1.4 billion through the construction alone.
“In the last financial year alone, BMA [Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance]’s existing operations contributed an estimated $9.3 billion in direct spending.”
Natural Resources and Mines minister Andrew Cripps said Daunia took 4.3 million man hours to construct.
“We welcome the investment and the vote of confidence this mine shows in the state of Queensland and what our government is doing to improve business conditions,” he said.
According to The Age, Mr Newman used the ceremony to guarantee a more stable royalty framework for the state’s coal miners and assure there would be no more royalty hikes.
“We didn’t like to do it, there won’t be any further changes and we are certainly trying to give people some [cost] offsets elsewhere,” he said.
“We are doing everything we are can to put on the table regulatory reform that will mean mines can find operating cost savings.”