Eagle Downs Coking Coal Project in the Bowen Basin in Central Queensland is one of only three new hard coking coal mines currently being developed in Australia, the fourth biggest coal producing country in the world.
Eagle Downs Coal Project is owned by Bowen Central Coal Joint Venture (BCCJV), a 50:50 joint venture partnership between Bowen Central Coal, a subsidiary of Vale Australia, and Aquila Coal, a subsidiary of Aquila Resources.
Eagle Downs Coal Management has been appointed to build and operate the coal mine on behalf of BCCJV.
The mining lease for the $1.3bn underground longwall coal mine project was granted in August 2011 and construction started in September 2011. The mine is scheduled to commence production in the first half of 2017 and is expected to have a 48-year mine life.
The underground mine is expected to produce around 4.5 million tonnes of coking coal per annum (Mtpa) during the first ten years of production. A proposal is also being made to install a second longwall, which will boost production to 8Mtpa from 2020.
Eagle Downs coal mine geology and reserves
The Eagle Downs coal mine is located approximately 20km south-east of Moranbah in Queensland, adjacent to the BHPB Mitsubishi Alliance’s Peak Downs Mine, one of the biggest coal mines in the world.
The deposit, comprised of fluvial and marine sediments, forms part of the Sydney-Gunnedah-Bowen basin system. The coal reserves at the deposit are assessed as low volatile and standard-grade hard coking coal.
The JORC-compliant proven and probable coal reserves of the mine are estimated to be 254Mt, while the measured and indicated coal resources are 959Mt.
Mining and ore processing
The underground longwall mining method will be employed at Eagle Downs to extract coal from three seams, namely Harrow Creek Upper, Harrow Creek Lower and Dysart.
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The mine will initially use two drifts extending to the Harrow Creek Upper coal seam, 270m vertically below surface. One drift will be used for the transportation of men and for material, while the other will be used for the mine drift conveyor.
Ore from the conveyor drift portal will be transported by an overland conveyor to an on-site 1,100tph capacity coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP), where it will be crushed, sized and washed. The washing process at the plant will involve screens, dense medium cyclones, spirals and flotation in order to produce hard coking coal product. The coarse rejects and dewatered fine rejects will be hauled by truck to a dry rejects emplacement area.
The processed coal will be transported to the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET) by rail for export. Aquila has been allocated 1.6Mtpa of port capacity at the WICET for the Eagle Downs project.
Construction and infrastructure facilities
The box-cut excavation at the mine was completed in May 2013, while the construction of the mine portal area was completed in August 2013.
The scope of construction includes a 6km-long sealed all-weather access road, construction of mine offices, drifts, underground conveyors, the coal handling and preparation plant, a gas drainage system, raw water supply facilities, ventilation shafts, a rail loop and loading facilities.
Power supply for the project site is provided by a high-voltage transmission network via the 132kV Powerlink substation commissioned in February 2013. Water required by the mine will be sourced from the regional water pipeline infrastructure.
WDS was awarded the Eagle Downs drift construction contract worth $142.8m in December 2013. JB Mining Services prepared the revised resource statement for the coal mine, which was reviewed and audited by Mining Consultancy Services.