Anglo American’s new Aquila mine has achieved its first longwall shear of steelmaking metallurgical coal on schedule and on budget, marking the project’s final stages of construction and commissioning, it says.
The Aquila mine, located near Middlemount in Central Queensland in Australia, extends the life of Anglo American’s existing Capcoal underground operations by seven years, after the company’s nearby Grasstree mine reached its end of life in recent weeks.
Themba Mkhwanazi, CEO of Bulk Commodities, said: “We have delivered the Aquila project on time and within our budgeted attributable cost of $226 million. This new mine will have a total average annual saleable production of around five million tonnes of premium quality hard coking coal and benefits from low capital intensity as we are using the existing infrastructure and systems from our adjacent operations. Aquila offers us highly attractive returns and margins at conservative long term consensus prices.”
Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, said: “Safely starting up longwall mining at Aquila Mine on our original schedule, despite the effects of the pandemic, is an important milestone for our Metallurgical Coal business and will support our ongoing contribution to both the Middlemount community, and Queensland’s economy. The mine uses our existing infrastructure at our Capcoal complex and supports around 600 ongoing operational roles for our Queensland-based workforce, including providing continuity of employment for our Grasstree mining team.”
The Aquila Mine has been developed as one of Australia’s most technologically advanced underground mines, leveraging Anglo American’s advancements in underground automation technology, remote operations and data analytics, the company says. The mine features two longwalls, allowing operations to continue without the downtime usually required for longwall moves. Both longwalls are fully remote-capable and will be sequentially operated from a site-based remote operations centre on the surface of the mine.
Anglo American’s Capcoal complex comprises Capcoal Open Cut Mine, Grasstree Mine, Aquila Mine, the Coal Handling and Preparation Plant and associated infrastructure. Aquila is owned 70% by Anglo American and 30% by Mitsui & Co. Ltd.