Kids may not want Santa to leave them a lump of it in their stockings, but a train load of coal was the perfect early Christmas present for workers at the Males Creek mine.
Whitehaven Coal announced yesterday that the first train load of coal would leave the Gunnedah site this week bound for the Port of Newcastle – three months ahead of schedule.
It follows the running of a test train earlier this week and comes less than a year since construction of the $767 million project first started.
Whitehaven Coal Managing Director and CEO Paul Flynn said it was a milestone moment for the company’s flagship open cut mine.
“The railing of the first coal from Maules Creek is a significant achievement for Whitehaven Coal. Railing first coal less than a year from when construction started is a fantastic outcome and I congratulate all those involved in this very successful project,” he said.
“Maules Creek is already having a substantial positive economic impact on local towns, the region more broadly and the state as a whole.
“During construction, the project has provided employment for up to 600 full-time equivalents and contractors.
“Once fully operational, the mine will employ around 450 full-time workers.
“Most of these workers will be hired from the local Gunnedah / Narrabri region ensuring the mine has a significant positive impact on local families and towns for many years to come.
“In addition, residents of New South Wales will benefit significantly from the royalties paid that will be used by the State Government to provide important essential services throughout NSW.”
Whitehaven expects Maules Creek to produce about 2.5 million tonnes (Mt) of run of mine (ROM) coal between now and June next year, ahead of the mine being declared “fully commercial” from July 1.
In the first full year of operations the mine is expected to produce about 6.0Mt of ROM coal.
Major construction components which remain in progress include the erection of the coal handling preparation plant (CHPP), provision of permanent power, product coal stockyards and workshops.
The CHPP is due to be completed before the end of May.