Singapore — Anglo-Swiss multinational Glencore will restart mining early next year at the Integra underground coal operation in Australia's New South Wales, which produces high fluidity semi-hard coking coal, the company said Tuesday.
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The firm is targeting a 2017 semi-hard coal production of 1.3 million mt from the mine that had been on care and maintenance since July 2014.
Operations could be maintained till 2018, the company said.
Australian producers like Glencore are resuming or raising output at met coal operations to take advantage of surging prices this year.
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The company said earlier in October it will resume output at its Collinsville coal mine -- a 6 million mt/year capacity mine producing thermal and coking coal, in Queensland.
Indian steeelmaker Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. also announced ramping up output at its 100-year old Wongawilli coking coal mine in New South Wales.
"The Integra mine has one longwall block already formed, providing an opportunity to begin mining with minimal delays or additional investment," said Ian Cribb, head of Glencore's Australian coal operations.
"Over the next two years, we also plan to complete and extract coal from a second longwall block that has already been partially developed at the mine."
Specifications of Integra semi-hard coking coal according to previous S&P Global Platts data are: 50% CSR, 38% VM, 9% ash, 9% total moisture, 0.5% sulphur, 0.015% phosphorous, 7 CSN and 5000 ddpm max fluidity.
Such a coal grade is highly prized by Asian steelmakers, specifically those in Japan and India, due to its high fluidity and low phosphorous content.
There is tight supply of high fluidity semi-hard coals in Asia, following BHP Billiton's closure of the Gregory Crinum mine late last year.
Integra's underground operation has reserves of more than 35 million mt of semi-hard coking coal and has approval to produce at 4.5 million mt/year.
The Integra mining complex also includes an open-cut mine, coal washing plant and load-out facility for rail which belong to the Bloomfield Group. The Group operates the adjacent Rix's Creek open-cut mine that shares the rail facility.
Both mines lie in the Hunter Valley coal field of New South Wales. The nearest port for coal shipments is the Newcastle Port located 90 km away.
Previous owner, Brazilian miner Vale and its five joint venture partners, had sold the complex to Glencore and Bloomfield in August 2015.
Before being placed on care and maintenance because of challenging coal market conditions, the Integra mining complex produced 678,000 mt of coal in the January-June 2014 period, of which 614,000 mt was metallurgical coal and 64,000 mt thermal coal, according to a Vale report.
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