Australia’s Downer has secured two contracts worth $225m with BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) for work at the Blackwater coal mine in the Bowen Basin, Central Queensland.

Under the terms of a two-year contract valued at about $150m, Downer will provide mining and maintenance services.

This contract has an additional one-year option and the scope of work includes the load and haul of pre-strip material using plant and equipment that are owned by BMA, as well as their maintenance.

The second contract is worth about $75m under which the company will provide blasting services at the mine.

Under the three year contract, Downer will provide the management and provision of drilling and blasting services, including partial down-the-hole loading services.

BMA is yet to confirm the date on which the two contracts will commence.

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With coal reserves amounting to 877 million tonnes of coking coal, Blackwater has an annual production capacity of 13 million tonnes of coal.

"Blackwater has an annual production capacity of 13 million tonnes of coal."

In a separate announcement, BMA said it intends to replace nearly half of its permanent workforce with contractors at the mine, a decision which will affect over 300 local jobs.

Australia’s Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Mining and Energy Queensland district president Steve Smyth said: "BHP wants to remove full time, permanent employees who live locally and replace them with contractors who have no job security, will receive less pay, and have inferior working conditions compared to current BHP employees under their enterprise agreement.

"Mineworkers and their families at Blackwater have been plunged into deep uncertainty about their futures today because of this announcement and the CFMEU’s attention is firmly on providing support to our members who will be affected."

Image: Downer will provide mining and maintenance services at the Blackwater coal mine in Australia. Photo: courtesy of SOMMAI/