Blackwater's Cook Colliery sailing into modern mine era
BLACKWATER'S Cook Colliery has completed its three-year modernisation project in readiness to ramp up to 3.5 million tonnes of raw coal output in 2016.
Caledon Coal managing director Brett Garland said the introduction of longwall mining and an upgrade to the 35-year-old coal preparation and handling plant, completed last month, had resulted in 100 new employees.
"This is a major investment that we have put into the operation and equipment," Mr Garland said.
"As a result, we were not only able to put new equipment into the mine but increase the employment up to 320-330 and there's not too many around that are saying that type of thing," he said.
"This investment will lead to significant productivity improvements due to the fact we have introduced longwall mining, and all that sits heavy in that the current coal price is making it very difficult to even look at turning a profit at this point in time.
"The operation will ramp up over the next 12 months to full capacity… and we are very pleased with the levels of output we are now seeing out of the mine."
Caledon's involvement as a foundation partner in Gladstone's Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal and its commitment to four million tonnes of coal through the port a year necessitated the mine expansion.
Mr Garland said the one million tonne shortfall for WICET would be sourced from "alternative projects".
"To reach that four million tonnes there will have to be some alternative development proposals," he said.
"We are developed to the stage where we can deliver three million of the four million tonnes from Cook, and are looking at ways to deliver the remaining one million tonnes."
Mr Garland praised Gram, the Chinese-owned investment group that pumped US $410 million into Caledon in 2011, for its faith in the coal industry.
"None of this would have been possible without the Chinese investment through Gram - the mine, the employment, the whole thing would not have survived without the purchase of the company by Gram and the follow-up investment," he said.
"It is a vote of confidence in the Central Queensland region as a whole, in the people, particularly the people of Blackwater and our workforce."