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Set to be one of the biggest coal mines in the world and Australia’s largest thermal coal mine in the North Galilee Basin, the $16.5 billion Carmichael Coal project has successfully received approval from the Federal Government in July this year, after sign off by the Queensland government in May.
Where is the project located? Larry: The mine is located 160km north-west of Clermont in Central Queensland, linked by a 189km standard gauge rail line to a new terminal at Abbot Point Port near Bowen. The benefits of the combined mine, rail and port operations will undoubtedly be felt locally, regionally and across Queensland – providing much needed job opportunities, development and investment in the region.
In light of this milestone, we caught up with Larry Hull, Head – Underground Mining at Adani Mining Australia to find out a bit more about the project, including his views on operating in the current climate.
What is the latest update you can give us on the project at this point? Larry: Obviously, this is a huge project with many parts to completion. However, all of the main components: port, rail, infrastructure, opencast mining and underground mining are proceeding with the plan of mining beginning in late 2016 and reaching full stage one production of 40 million tons per annum in 2019. I will be giving an update at my presentation.
Adani forecasts the first coal shipment in 2016-2017, through the Abbott Point Terminal – what is the latest update on this? Larry: This forecast remains the same but is dependent on the usual factors such as construction time tables. From the underground mining perspective, first long wall coal is expected in early 2018.
The importance of building community confidence and favourable public opinion is paramount, particularly for significant projects like this – what are some of the tools that have been utilised to achieve this? Larry: Adani has begun airing information ads on local television. Also, in every public appearance by Adani officials, the officials reiterate Adani’s firm commitment to Australia and to Australian workers. The proof will always be in our actions and what I have personally witnessed is an unwavering commitment by this company at every level.
Cost reduction programs have been perceived to be critical to the long term viability of Australian mining – what are your thoughts on this, and are there specific measures planned for the project? Larry: It has been my experience that difficult times bring out the best in people. Since we are building an entirely new project, it stands to reason that we will use the latest available technologies, equipment, safety training and scheduling. Cost reduction programs are almost always a reflection of the excesses of the past. In other words, only the fittest and leanest survive. As a new operation we can certainly learn from the past mistakes of others and we can also learn from the many successes of others as well. We will have a wealth of experienced talent and we will use that experience to help us do it right in the first place rather than have to painfully do it over later. I expect us to have the most cost efficient operation in Australia.
Finally, one of the key factors to a successful operation is leadership – when did you begin heading up the Underground Operations and what will your role entail going forward? Larry: I came to Adani in March of this year. I have over 30 years of direct management experience in operating some of the most successful long wall operations in the US. Going forward, I want to combine the best of the practices in the US with those of Australia and the many other areas of the world that have strong mining capabilities. In doing so, we should be able to build the most productive and cost effective long wall mines in Australia. That is what I expect our team to do.
You can hear Larry present at the Longwall 2014 Conference which will take place at the end of October in the Hunter Valley.