The first coal leaves Gregory mine by train today (October 18) after the site’s restart under new owner Sojitz Coal Mining, with exports out of Gladstone due to start next month.
Coal has been running through the washplant for a fortnight after refurbishment works by DRA Global and local subsidiary G&S Engineering, according to Sojitz Coal Mining managing director and chief executive officer Cameron Vorias.
“We’ve had up to 160 people on site doing refurbishment work from structural, electrical and mechanical work to IT work to get the plant back to the condition where it is able to perform at a reliable level,” Mr Vorias said.
The plant is being brought online in three phases – initially operating at 600-tonnes-an-hour throughput.
“Our full capacity will be 1200 tonnes an hour over two products across three modules. We expect to reach that by about December,” Mr Vorias said.
The products include a primary hard coking coal product and a secondary product.
Sojitz is spending about $20 million to bring the washplant up to its required condition.
A further $15 million has been invested to bring the operation online, including for the refurbishment of the site’s Marion 8050 dragline.
It is working alongside a fleet of four excavators and 26 trucks to deliver coal from the open pit mine to the ROM pad.
“We made a commitment to our employees and local community that we would restart this operation quickly and we have,” Mr Vorias said.
“We have also commenced our rehabilitation works at the site under the control of our new environmental company Sojitz Green.”
Local jobs commitment
Sojitz Coal Mining acquired the mothballed Gregory Crinum coking coal mine from BMA for $100 million and officially gained control of the site from March this year.
Mr Vorias said a workforce of about 200 was employed at the mine at the moment and this would lift to about 250 over the next six months.
“Getting access to people has been a difficulty – particularly skilled operators,” he said.
“Following the success of our ‘New to Industry’ recruitment program at Minerva mine, we have also embarked on a similar program for people based in Capella or Emerald for the Gregory startup.”
There had been a strong uptake in the local area, he said.
“The New to Industry people are very high quality with a commitment to the region. We’re very happy with the response,” Mr Vorias said.