Rio Tinto subsidiary Coal & Allied plans to increase output from its NSW mines by up to 70% in the next four years as the clogged Hunter Valley coal chain, which includes Newcastle port, improves. According to The Australian, the company plans to boost production from about 20 million metric tons (mt) a year to between 40 million mt and 43 million mt in 2014. About $5 billion of new port and rail infrastructure is planned in and around Newcastle over the next four years under a long term framework deal struck last year. The biggest potential addition to production for Coal & Allied is at its Mount Pleasant prospect, where the company is dusting off a 2007-08 feasibility study and updating it. Mount Pleasant, which is yet to be approved by the board, had the potential to produce 9 million mt of saleable coal a year. The aim was to start the mine in 2013 and be at full capacity by 2014. As the constraints on the coal system ease, about 2 million mt a year of extra coal should be able to be produced at each of the company’s three main operations. Coal & Allied also plans to expand its Bengalla mine.

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