Stanmore Coal has awarded a contract for UGM Highwall Mining to start highwall operations at Isaac Plains, near Moranbah.
The highwall mining would target the disused S2 pit in the south of the mining lease and would have no impact on the ongoing open-pit coal production, the company said.
“We are very pleased to have signed this contract with UGM after more than 12 months of preparation, detailed design and discussions with relevant State representatives,” Stanmore managing director Nick Jorss said.
“Highwall mining is an attractive option for Stanmore at Isaac Plains given the potential to produce low-cost, low-impact incremental tonnes of coking coal to be sold to existing and new customers.
“The additional coal is expected to be produced at an FOB cost which is around 20 per cent lower than the current open-cut cost, given the largely fixed nature of the infrastructure costs which are already covered by open-cut mining operations.”
Stanmore Coal bought the mothballed Isaac Plains mine late last year – restarting operations to produce first coal in April, creating more than 150 direct jobs.
Highwall mining is a low-impact method to extract otherwise uneconomic coal at the end of an open-cut pit life.
It has been extensively used in the USA and Australia including at Glencore’s Newlands and Ulan mines and Anglo American’s Dawson mine.
Stanmore said the highwall mining zones at Isaac Plains had been designed so as not to interfere with future access to an underground resource being investigated as a potential bord and pillar operation.
The UGM contract is designed around a ROM (run of mine) production target of 70,000 tonnes per month at a dollar rate per ROM tonne.
Overall the contract term is about five months with more than 300,000 ROM tonnes targeted within the existing highwall of the S2 pit.
The principal mining contractor at Isaac Plains – Golding Contractors – has been awarded ROM coal haulage services for delivery of the mined coal to the processing plant where Golding will also then process the coal.