Peabody Energy increases production at Australian coal mines


Peabody Energy is increasing seaborne coal volumes at its Wilpinjong and Millennium mines in Australia, following expansion of the properties.

Peabody Chairman and CEO Gregory H Boyce said the expansion of the mines increases the company's annual thermal and metallurgical coal supplies to serve the highest-demand regions by a combined three to five million tonnes.

"With the recent acquisition of Macarthur Coal and additional Australian mine expansions over the next several years, Peabody plans for a rising share of our earnings to come from the world's largest coal exporting nation," said Boyce.

The company's Wilpinjong thermal coal mine, located in New South Wales, is expected to increase annual production by 2Mt to 3Mt beginning in 2012 compared with 9.2Mt in 2010.

Increased production will commence once the company completes a preparation plant and coal handling facility expansion with an investment of $95m.

The Millennium Mine in Queenslan's Bowen Basin is targeted to increase pulverised coal injection (PCI) and semi-hard coal production by on to 2tpa when full production is reached in 2013.

Peabody has invested approximately $20m to date in the expansion of the mine into a new lease area that will increase the mine's run of mine extraction rate up to 5.5Mtpa.

The company will also invest an additional $275m over the next two years in the expansion, which will require relatively minor construction works, and full capacity is expected by 2013-14.

Millennium produces a low-ash coking coal and low to mid-volatile PCI coal for customers in Japan, Korea, China and India.

Peabody also signed a ten-year agreement with the Australian Rail Track Corporation for below-rail track access in the Hunter Valley rail network in January next year.