Xstrata has approved the investment of $1.1 billion to develop the Ulan West underground thermal coal mine in the central west of New South Wales, Australia. The new longwall mine will produce 6.7 million mt/y of export thermal coal, with a life of mine of approximately 18 years. Situated within the existing Ulan mine complex, Ulan West will complement the Ulan No. 3 underground mine and use some of the existing infrastructure at the Ulan complex. Subject to the receipt of a Development Approval and other government environmental approvals, construction of the mine is expected to commence in late 2010, with the first longwall coal to be extracted in 2014.