BMA banks on coal for 30 more years with plans to expand mine

BHP’s coal joint venture has applied to expand its $3.4 billion Caval Ridge mine in central Queensland taking its production life into the 2050s.

Sep 14, 2021, updated Sep 14, 2021

Without the expansion, the mine would be constrained by as early as 2025.

The expansion of the mine, which is held in the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA),  is within the existing mining lease, and if approved it would support ongoing operations, jobs and investment in Central Queensland for decades to come, the company said. 

The expansion is known as the Horse Pit Extension project and BMA said it was developing project approval applications for the State and Commonwealth approval processes.

“If approved, the extension is projected to extend the mine’s life from the 2030s to the 2050s, protecting jobs and royalties for years to come,’’ BMA said. 

“By utilising existing capacity at the Caval Ridge Mine we are ultimately contributing to the long term viability and sustainability of the operation — continuing to deliver local jobs and investment for the regional supply chain and broader community.

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Caval Ridge only began production in 2014 and was part of a $10 billion investment BHP made at the time in the Queensland coal sector. However, by the time it came on line the mining boom was over and prices were low.

It has the capacity to produce up to 15 million tonnes a year.

“Without this approval, production at Caval Ridge Mine is projected to be constrained in approximately full year 2025. If obtained, the approvals being sought for this project are projected to extend production at Caval Ridge Mine to approximately full year 2056.

“Subject to mining approval, the extension is anticipated to take up to two years before coal mining commences in the area, with construction not anticipated prior to full year 2023. No changes to the current workforce arrangements or job figures are anticipated.’’

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