Fitzory Australia Resources chief executive Grant Polwarth.
Fitzory Australia Resources chief executive Grant Polwarth. Emily Smith

Mothballed Bowen Basin mine likely to reopen

AFTER scrapping plans to place the Carborough Downs mine on care and maintenance, it's new owner has pushed forward with expansion projects and is now working to reopen the Broadlea coal mine.

Fitzroy Australia Resources bought Vale's 90% stake in Carborough Downs, near Coppabella, in December last year; it included the Broadlea open cut operations and a number of underdeveloped coal tenements.

While Vale had planned to put the Carborough Downs mine on care and maintenance in April, Fitzroy Australia Resources chief executive Grant Polwarth said it had retained the 170-180 workers and pushed forward with expansions to keep it open another five to 10 years.

But he said it "had to move quickly" to kickstart this development, so had brought in about 72 contractors from ABM and One Key.

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He believes these contractors would stay on until about 2018 as expansions continued.

"The mine under previous ownership was purely a longwall operation, they'd stopped all development operations as they were winding the mine down," Mr Polwarth said.

"We've come on and we've had to move very quickly, think out of the box, on how we can give ourselves continuity through 2017 and mine towards the north to unlock the reserves in the northern area.

"We've breathed life into the mine and given it a future."

The company also planned to breathe life into the Broadlea coal mine, which was placed into care and maintenance by Vale in 2009.

When the mine was mothballed, about 80 workers lost their jobs.

A Plan of Operations was recently approved and Mr Polwarth said "it's in a state now where we can move very quickly to recommence production and we're in discussions at the moment with a number of groups on how we might do that."

He said contractors would also "more than likely" be brought in, as the mine would probably only open for about a year.

"It's likely to be a substantial operation for a short period of time," he said.

"We're looking at potentially starting it for a 12-month campaign."

An environmental impact statement for a greenfields underground project was also likely to be submitted by the company this year.

A project manager already had been appointed to the operation, and if the EIS was approved, the company hoped it would eventually move through to production.