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BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) today announced plans to develop a new punch longwall underground coal mine in Central Queensland.

The US$67 million ($A102 million) project, to be known as Broadmeadow Mine, will have the capacity to produce up to 3.6 million tonnes of high quality coking coal a year.

Located on BMA’s Goonyella open cut mine lease, Broadmeadow Mine will feature BMA’s first application of punch longwall mining, a highly efficient underground technique utilising an existing open cut pit for longwall panel access. This simple, low cost mining option will enhance BMA’s competitiveness in the international coking coal market.

The development of Broadmeadow Mine is part of BMA’s strategy to respond rapidly to market opportunities with flexible low cost production of high quality coking coal. Goonyella brand coking coal is highly regarded and widely utilised in steel production around the world.

Development is scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2003, leading up to the commencement of longwall operations in the second half of 2005.

The new mine will be committed to world class standards in safety performance and environmental management, and a philosophy of continuous improvement.

For the start-up of longwall mining, BMA will employ a workforce of around ninety people who are committed to these standards, with contractors who have demonstrated high standards of safe production being utilised for panel development work as required.

The project will provide a boost to the Central Queensland region and the Moranbah community during the two year construction period and subsequently when the mine reaches full production.

Broadmeadow Mine will deliver a number of synergies between the underground and open cut operations. These include utilisation of the existing Goonyella preparation plant capacity, increased flexibility to respond to market demand, improved reliability of supply for customers and optimisation of product quality through selective blending.

BMA, which is jointly owned by BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi, operates seven coal mines and the Hay Point Coal Terminal in Central Queensland. The mines have the capacity to produce more than 50 million tonnes of coal a year, which is exported to more than 60 customers in 20 countries.

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