Australian corporation Wesfarmers has decided to expand its Curragh mine located in Bowen Basin in Queensland, Australia.

The mine’s expansion will allow it to increase export coal production capacity from its present 6.5-7.0 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 8.0-8.5 mtpa from late 2011.

Wesfarmers has signed an agreement with Stanwell Corporation that means the Curragh mine will be able to access 46 million tonnes of reserves owned by Stanwell in the Curragh North mining region.

The expansion also involves the development of a stand-alone coal handling and preparation plant in addition to $286m of mine infrastructure that is scheduled for completion by late 2011.

Wesfarmers MD Stewart Butel said the expansion will improve Curragh’s long-term prospects and ensure the company capitalises on the forecast rise in seaborne metallurgical coal demand.

“It will provide additional employment at the mine both during the construction phase and in the longer term,” Butel said.

“Our customers will benefit from increased metallurgical coal supply and the Queensland State Government will receive higher royalty collections.”

Wesfarmers has obtained all required approvals to run the mine to facilitate exports at 8.0-8.5 mtpa rate and to commence expansion works.