Peabody Energy recently approved an upgrade and expansion of the Metropolitan mine in New South Wales, Australia. The expansion is expected to increase capacity by 1 million metric tons (mt) within several years. Capital investments for the expansion are expected to total $70 million, of which approximately $15 million is targeted for 2010. Metropolitan mine received final permits to proceed with the expansion in the second half of 2009.

A longwall mining operation, Metropolitan exported 1.5 million mt of mostly hard coking coal in 2009 through Port Kembla south of Sydney. “The Metropolitan mine expansion is one of a number of projects aimed at nearly doubling Peabody’s Australian met coal and thermal export platform by 2014,” said Peabody Energy Chairman and CEO Greg Boyce.

Peabody has multiple Australian expansion projects targeted at raising the company’s metallurgical coal shipments to 12 to 15 million mt/y by 2014, while increasing thermal coal export capacity to 15 to 17 million mt/y. Peabody is targeting a 20% to 30% increase in 2010 thermal exports and met coal shipments to meet growing global demand.

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