Bulga coal mine

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The Bulga coal complex is a group of mines operated by Bulga Coal Management, a subsidiary of Glencore, in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia.[1]


The map below shows the exact location of the mine near Broke, in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia.

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The Bulga mine complex is a combined open-cut and underground coal mine, ultimately owned by Glencore. It is managed by Bulga Coal Management Pty Limited on behalf of the Bulga Joint Venture (BJV). The BJV ownership comprises Saxonvale Coal Pty Limited which holds an 87.5% share with the remaining 12.5% held by Nippon Steel Australia Pty Limited. Saxonvale Coal Pty Limited is a 100% owned by Oakbridge Pty Limited of which Enex Oakbridge Pty Limited owns 78%. Glencore owns 100% of Enex Oakbridge Pty Limited.[2]

Open cut mining within the Bulga Coal complex commenced in 1982, while underground mining did not begin until 1992.[3] Bulga Coal targets the Redbank, Wambo, Blakefield, Glen Munro and Woodlands Hill seams of the Whittingham coal measures.[4]

The Bulga Coal complex includes an open cut mine, a Coal Handling and Preparation Plant and underground mines, including South Bulga, Beltana and Blakefield South.

Underground mining at Bulga ceased in 2018, though mining leases have been retained in the case Glencore wants to begin mining again. In December 2014, Bulga Open Cut received approval to continue operations until 2035.[3]

Since the underground mine shut down in 2018, the overall complex produces approximately 12 million tonnes of semi soft coking coal and thermal coal, which is then taken by rail to the Port of Newcastle to be exported to China and Japan. [5]

In 2013, Glencore estimated that coal reserves for Bulga open cut operations were sufficient to support a mine life of 23 years.[6]


In 2020, Glencore sought approval for works that would allow the life of its Bulga Coal mine to extend four years beyond its permit date to the end of 2039. Known as the "Bulga Optimization Project Modification 3," the expansion would also enable the extraction of an additional 63 million tonnes of coal while maintaining the current approved open cut coal extraction rate of up to 12.2 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa).[7][8] (The initial Bulga Optimization Project, which was approved in 2014, related to ongoing operation of the Bulga's surface operations until 2035.)[8]

This project gained critical media attention when it was listed on the New South Wales Government's "fast-tracked assessments" during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was reasoned that the project was worthy of quicker approval because it would generate 1000 jobs, would contribute to "the economic recovery of available coal resources using the existing infrastructure, facilities and experienced personnel," and would trigger $95 million in investments.[7] However, according to Bulga Coal's own admission, the project would only "provide for the immediate employment of 150 additional construction workers."[7]

According to the New South Wales Government Planning Portal, the modification was approved in July 2020.[9][10]

Project Details

  • Operator: Bulga Coal Management[2]
  • Owners: Saxonvale Coal Pty Ltd (87.5%) and Nippon Steel Australia Pty Ltd (12.5%)[11]
  • Location: 12 kilometers southwest of Singleton and 1 kilometer north of Broke, in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia[1]
  • GPS Coordinates: -32.6795434, 151.1000279 (exact)
  • Status: Operating[3]
  • Production: 10.98 mtpa (2021)[12]
  • Total Resource: 2.83 billion tonnes (open cut & underground, 2022)[13]
  • Mineable Reserves: 159 million tonnes (open cut, 2022)[13]
  • Coal Type: semi-soft coking coal and thermal coal[14]
  • Mine Size: 5,500 hectares[15]
  • Mine Type: Open cut & underground (truck and shovel operation, dragline)[3]
  • Workforce Size: 750[11]
  • Start Year: 1982[2]
  • Source of Financing:

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bulga Coal, "About Us", Bulga Coal website, accessed August 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Fast Facts: Bulga Coal, Bulga Coal website, archived from the original on 11 March 2020, accessed March 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "OVERVIEW," "Glencore website," accessed June 2020.
  4. "Overview," "Xstrata coal website," July 2012.
  5. "​Welcome to Bulga Coal," "Glencore: Bulga Coal," accessed June 2020
  6. "Resources & Reserves as at 31 December 2013," "GlencoreXstrata," 2013.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Coal mine expansion for 2035 gets COVID 'fast-track' approval status", The Sydney Morning Herald, July 1, 2020.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Bulga Optimisation Project Modification 3 and Bulga Underground Modification 7, Glencore, accessed March 2023.
  9. Bulga Coal Mine Optimisation, New South Wales Government Planning Portal website, accessed 9 June 2022.
  10. Bulga Open Cut Fact Sheet, Glencore Australia, accessed March 2023.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Current Operations: Bulga Coal, Glencore website, accessed 14 June 2022.
  12. "Glencore, 2021 Annual Review Bulga Coal, Glencore Australia, accessed March 2023.
  13. 13.0 13.1 2022 Reserves and Resources Report, Glencore, accessed March 2023.
  14. "Open cut mining," "Glencore: Bulga Coal," accessed June 2020.
  15. "Xstrata Coal Bulga," "Xstrata Coal Bulga," accessed June 2020.

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