BHP Billiton has approved an investment of $400m for the expansion of Hunter Valley Energy Coal in New South Wales, Australia.

The expansion known as the RX1 project (RX1) will facilitate Mt Arthur Coal’s run-of-mine thermal coal production to increase to about 24Mtpa.

BHP Billiton owns 100% of Mt Arthur Coal through Hunter Valley Energy Coal and expects RX1 to deliver first production in the second half of the 2013.

BHP Billiton Energy Coal president Jimmy Wilson said the emergence of demand for coal in the key growth markets allows the firm to get the product to the market quickly, ahead of further coal preparation plant expansions.

“The RX1 Project will take advantage of existing port capacity and future expansion options will be supported by Mt Arthur Coal’s large, low-cost resource and the ability to expand the coal processing facilities,” he said.