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The Mount Arthur open pit black coal mine in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales is the largest such operation in the region that it shares with olive growers, wine makers, horse breeders and a nearby residential community. To keep operational noise to a minimum the mine owner BHP Billiton uses electricity powered shovels to handle the overburden work. The mine also employs huge equipment in the form of graders, dozers, excavators, drills, shovels, trucks and water carts. The trucks are used to take the coal to its various destinations after being loaded by the excavators.

Twenty one Coal Seams Make up the Mount Arthur Coal Mine

The Mount Arthur Coal Mine produces over 20 million tonnes of ROM (run-of-mine) coal a year with some sold domestically and some to fill export contracts for power generation purposes. Currently planned expansion of the mine will see production lifted to 24 million tonnes a year. The black coal is bituminous in rank and is made up of high quality thermal as well as hard coking low-volatile coal. The mine consists of 21 individual coal seams that average about two metres in thickness.

Coal Graded Into Three Stockpiles

Some of the biggest and quietest trucks in the world take the coal the the nearby CHPP (coal handling and preparation plant. It is here where the coal is crushed, screened and generally cleaned before being graded according to customers requirements. The processing plant crusher can handle 2,000 tonnes of raw coal and hour and the preparation plant 1,200 tonnes an hour. Once the coal has been crushed it is taken to one of three stockpiles, these are:

1. Export Stockpile. The coal is taken from this stockpile to the rail load out facility to be taken to the port at Newcastle where it is loaded onto shipping for export. In 2010 over 10 million tonnes was shipped out the the Newcastle port for exporting overseas.

2. The Coal Preparation Plant Stockpile. Coal from this stockpile requires further treatment to remove impurities. Once it has been cleaned up it is taken by conveyor to the export stockpile.

3. The Domestic Stockpile. Coal is taken from this stockpile by conveyor to the local power generator. 1.7 million tonnes is used for this purpose each year.

Expensive Expansion Projects pay off

A Mount Arthur Coal Expansion Program that came at a cost of $260 million increased production by a 3.5 million tonnes. A third loading facility has also been constructed at the Newcastle port by the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group of which BHP Billiton has shares. This new facility cost $390 million but allows a much freer export process to take place at the port which also allows for increased production.

The exploration and mining areas of the Mount Arthur Coal Mine consist of the Mount Arthur North Lease which began producing in 2002, the Bayswater No. 3 Lease in 1995 and the Bayswater No 2 Lease in 1968. In recent years most production is taking place at the Mount Arthur North Lease.

BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton have been in the industry for over 150 years & are among the largest producers of major commodities such as aluminium, copper, coal, iron ore, silver & branching out into oil & gas.They have over 100 locations throughout the world & employ more than 100,000 employees & more


BHP Billiton
171 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000


Phone13 0055 4757
fax03 9609 3015

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