Mitsubishi Corp. and BHP Billiton have begun preparations to sell a portion of the metallurgical coal mining operations they jointly own in Australia, The Nikkei reported. The Gregory Crinum complex has been producing coking coal since 1979 via open-cut and underground mining. It had an output of roughly 3.7 million mt in 2011, accounting for nearly 10% of all of BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s production.

The 50:50 joint venture last year suspended operations at two of its seven already developed coal mines in the state of Queensland. This was due to a deteriorating business environment stemming from falling coal prices, the rising Australian dollar and labor costs.