Officials at top miner BHP Billiton and their joint venture partner (JV) Mitsubishi have announced the opening of the $3.4 billion Caval Ridge mine, creating 500 jobs in Australia’s central Queensland. The project is the JV’s eighth in the region and is forecast to produce 5.5 million tons per year of premium met coal.

BHP Coal President Dean Dalla Valle praised the development as below budget, with production three months ahead of schedule. “Caval Ridge is a milestone for BHP to be one of the most highly performing metallurgical coal mines in the world,” he said at a recent opening ceremony.

“Energy efficiency is a key focus built into its design and management,” he added. “This includes highly efficient equipment and the optimization of truck, shovel and dragline movements.”

The project near Cairns and Brisbane, he added, has a workforce comprised of 21% women, 3% indigenous peoples and 43% new-to-industry employees. The BHP-Mitsubishi JV alliance is the No. 1 Bowen Basin employer, with more than 7,000 workers at eight operations, six of which have a residential workforce.

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