Anglo doubles mine plan at Moranbah South

BRITISH miner AngloAmerican is planning one of Australia’s biggest coalmines, which will more than double the expected size of its Moranbah South underground mine.

But the trade-off appears to be a two-year delay on operations, which is now not slated to start producing coking coal until 2017.

In documents submitted to the federal Environment Department, Anglo says it plans to export up to 14 million tonnes a year from two underground coalmines at Moranbah South, 150km southwest of Mackay.

This would make it close to the nation’s biggest export coalmine (underground or open pit) rivalling BHP Billiton’s Goonyella and Blackwater mines, which also produce about 14 million tonnes a year.

Anglo’s 50 per cent partner in the mine, Exxaro Resources, had previously flagged a mine that would export 6.5 million tonnes of coal a year from 2015.

The cost of that mine, according to the latest estimate from the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, was $1 billion, meaning a probable $2bn-plus price tag on the new plan.

Anglo’s Brisbane office was unable to comment yesterday on its plans other than to say average production would be 12 million tonnes a year.

The project is aiming for a peak production rate of 18 million tonnes a year of mined coal, from which 14 million tonnes of exports would be gathered.

Construction, if approved, is expected to start in 2014.

Matt Chambers – The Australian

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