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Curragh Mine is a surface mine, operated by Coronado Global, near Blackwater in the Bowen Basin of Central Queensland, Australia.
The mine is currently pursuing a 3 million tonnes per annum expansion to extend the life of the mine. In 2020, the company announced it may defer the expansion.
The exact location of the coal mine is shown on the map below.
The mine was approved in November 1980 by the then Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen who awarded the contract to mine to a consortium comprising Australian Consolidated Industries, R.W. Miller & Co, Mitsui and Arco. The mine announcement was part of a major policy announcement of approval for two new coal-fired power stations, the Callide power station and another station at a location to be determined. The go-ahead for the mine was announced just days before the 1980 state election, which Bjelke-Petersen won.
Curragh has been operating since 1983. In 2017 it was the sixth largest metallurgical coal mine in Australia by production.
On its website, Curragh states that "Wesfarmers Limited purchased the assets to the Curragh Co-venture in June 2000 and Wesfarmers Curragh Pty Ltd now holds the full equity interest of Curragh Queensland Mining Pty Ltd and Curragh Coal Sales Co. Pty Ltd. Wesfarmers Curragh Pty Ltd is part of Wesfarmers Resources Limited, a division of Wesfarmers Limited."
Curragh was acquired by Wesfarmers for about $200 million in 2000, when it was is one of the world's biggest metallurgical coal mines.
The mine was owned by Wesfarmers Curragh, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wesfarmers Resources. In 2017 Wesfarmers sold the Curragh coal mine to Coronado Coal Group for $700 million in a deal that will also earn Wesfarmers further payments if the coal price remains strong.
The mine, which is owned by Coronado Global, covers an area of approximately 12,600 hectares. Approximately two-thirds of the mine's output is metallurgical coal with one-third thermal coal. The mine was expanded in 2011/12 to increase production capacity to 8.5 million tonnes a year.
Curragh is one of the world’s largest metallurgical coal mines, with baseline production of 8.5 million tonnes a year of export metallurgical coal and 3.5 million tonnes a year of steaming coal.
Coking coal from the mine is railed 300 kilometres to the Port of Gladstone while steaming coal is produced for the Stanwell Power Station near Rockhampton. On its website Curragh stated that "open cut reserves at Curragh allow production levels to be maintained to at least 2025."
Coronado intends to extend the mine. The plans are worth between $80 million and $108.5 million. Phase one would see Curragh volumes lifted to 13.5 mtpa by 2020 at a cost of $US8 million. Coronado would then invest an estimated $US93 million on two new pits that will see Curragh sustaining 15 mtpa from 2023. The planned extension would sit between Curragh North and Curragh South and utilise existing infrastructure reducing costs. The planned expansion would extend the life of the mine until 2041.
Federal regulators approved an expansion for the Curragh mine to Wesfarmers in November 2016, allowing access a further 67 million tonnes of coal across four additional pits.
In Coronado's 2018 Annual Report the possibility of further extensions, via way of underground mining are being considered.
Previously, a $286 million expansion of the mine was constructed in 2009, due to be commissioned in 2012. In November 2009 Wesfarmers announced the expansion of the mine from it's 6.5 to 7.0 million tonnes capacity to a maximum of 8.5 million tonnes. This followed Wesfarmers reaching an agreement with Stanwell Corporation on access to 46 million tonnes of coal reserves in the Curragh North mining area.
The project was designed to lift coal production from the mine to 8.5 million tonnes of coal..
In its 2011 annual report Wesfarmers stated that it had commenced a feasibility study on a further expansion of the Curragh mine to 10 million tonnes a year.
According to Australian environmental group Market Forces, in September 2019, the Australian commercial banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac helped loan US$550 million to Coronado Global Resources, US$200 million of which was to fund expansion of the Curragh coal mine. Market Forces points out that NAB's involvement in the funding contradicts its commitment to no longer finance new thermal coal mines or extensions.
2014 price slide
In mid-January 2014 Wesfarmers Resources announced that it had settled price negotiations with a majority of its customers for the January to March quarter but at a 5% discount to the preceding quarter for an average free on board price of $US138 per tonne for metallurgical coal.
Platts noted that "hard coking coal from Curragh is generally viewed by the market as a second-tier product and is therefore sold at a discount to premium hard coking coal produced by Anglo American's German Creek mine in Queensland, for example."
"Demand for our met coal is still strong and is growing but it's an oversupplied market," Wesfarmers Managing Director Stewart Butel told Platts.
In December 2008 a boom on a dragline collapsed while being lowered for maintenance. In a media statement the company stated that "the boom of the dragline was being lowered by four cranes and, as a result of winch failure with one of the cranes, the boom fell around 30 metres." A crane operator received minor injuries.
- Wesfarmers, the ultimate owner of Wesfarmers Curragh, has hired John Connolly & Partners to represent the company in Queensland.
- Sponsor: Coronado Global
- Parent Company:
- Location: 14 km North of Blackwater, Queensland
- GPS Coordinates: -23.493219, 148.842723 (exact)
- Status: Operational
- Production Capacity:12 mtpa
- Total Resource: 957 Million tonnes.
- Mineable Reserves: 251 Million tonnes.
- Coal type: Bituminous (coking coal and thermal coal)
- Mine Size:
- Mine Type: Surface mining
- Start Year:1983, expansion planned to commence in 2020 and to reach production capacity of 15mtpa in 2023
- Source of Financing: The Energy and Minerals Group and through shares on the Australian Stock Exchange
- Proposed Capacity:15 mtpa (3 mtpa expansion)
- Start year: 2023
- Source of Financing: ANZ, NAB and Westpac among lenders which provided US$200 million for the expansion project
Articles and resources
- Wesfarmers, "Quarterly statement of production, development and exploration", October 20, 2011.
- Qld coal expansion, exports deferred as demand tumbles, Financial Review, Apr 28, 2020.
- John Miner, "Queensland plans to almost double output", Sydney Morning Herald, November 25, 1980, page 2.
- Vicki Smiles, "ANI plugs into Joh's power play", Sydney Morning Herald, December 3, 1980, page 14.
- Coronado, "Australia",Coronado website, 2018
- Curragh, "About Us", Curragh website, accessed August 2010 (unavailable).
- James Thomson, "Wesfarmers sells Curragh coal mine for $700m", Financial Review, 22 December 2017.
- Esmarie Iannucci, "Major investment flagged at Curragh" Creamer Media's Mining Weekly, 5 August 2019.
- Matthew Stevens, "Coronado's fulfilment going unrewarded," Financial Review, 6 August 2019.
- Shift Miner Magazine, "Curragh Expansion" ISSUU website, 10 March 2017.
- Coronado Global Resources, "Coronado Global Resources Annual Report 2018" Page 37, April 2019.
- Peter Ker, "For-sale Wesfarmers coal mine gets expansion approval" Financial Review, 16 November 2016.
- Wesfarmers, "Wesfarmers approves expansion of Curragh Mine", Media Release, November 10, 2009.
- "Thiess in deal to expand Curragh mine", Sydney Morning Herald, February 15, 2010. (This is an AAP story).
- "Funding Climate Failure: How How Australia’s big banks are undermining the Paris Agreement", Market Forces, accessed September 2020
- Wesfarmers Resources, [http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.File?item=UGFyZW50SUQ9MjE3NTI2fENoaWxkSUQ9LTF8VHlwZT0z&t=1 " Media Release, January 20, 2014.
- Paul Bartholomew, "Australia's Wesfarmers settles Jan-Mar Curragh metallurgical coal contracts 5% lower on quarter", Platts, January 20, 2014.
- Wesfarmers, "Incident at Curragh Mine", Media Release, December 8, 2008.
- "Worker injured at Curragh coal mine", Sydney Morning Herald, December 8, 2008.
- Queensland Integrity Commission, "Client Details: Client Name: Wesfarmers Limited", Queensland Integrity Commission website, accessed October 2011.
- Queensland Resources Council, "Full members", Queensland Resources Council website, accessed October 2011.
- Liam Walsh, "Coronado digs deeper for cheaper Aussie coal" Financial Review, 5 August 2019.
- Coronado, "Our history", Coronado website, 2018