Federal Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, officially opened Whitehaven Coal’s $767M open cut coal project at Maules Creek, near Boggabri in the NSW Gunnedah Basin.
Minister Macfarlane, representing the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, was joined by the Federal Member for Parkes, Mr Mark Coulton MP, the State Member for Barwon, the Hon Kevin Humphries MP, senior representatives from Whitehaven’s joint venture partners Itochu and J-Power, and other dignitaries and guests.
“Today marks an important milestone in Whitehaven Coal’s growth and transition as a company and is a testament to the performance of our people who have worked tirelessly to deliver this project ahead of time, and under budget” said CEO, Paul Flynn.
“I particularly welcome the strong support Whitehaven has received today from the Minister, the Federal and State local members of Parliament, and representatives from our local councils who understand the critical role mining plays in building and sustaining economic prosperity in regional Australia.”
The Maules Creek Mine, which began railing coal in December 2014 and has been operating commercially since 1 July 2015, will create nearly 500 new local jobs, inject an additional $68 million in wages into the local economy each year, and deliver $13 million in local infrastructure investment as part of Whitehaven’s Voluntary Planning Agreements with local councils.
“Over the past three years alone Whitehaven has spent nearly half a billion dollars locally and it’s the local community that will continue to reap the benefit of projects such as Maules Creek for decades to come. Today is a day where we acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the past few years, but the real story of Maules Creek and the economic opportunity it is bringing to this area is only just starting” Mr Flynn said.
All of Whitehaven Coal’s operational sites are in the North West of NSW and Whitehaven is the largest single employer in the Gunnedah Basin. Over 75 per cent of Whitehaven’s 800-strong workforce is based permanently in the local community.
“We know there are people out there who want these jobs. When we advertised the first 100 jobs at Maules Creek we received 1,800 applications. Regional areas need businesses that can create and sustain jobs and also provide training opportunities.”
The Maules Creek Mine is also setting new standards in terms of its commitment to supporting the local Indigenous community and is already exceeding its voluntary target of 10 per cent Indigenous representation at Maules Creek within the first five years.
“There are currently 37 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees at Maules Creek and that number expected to rise. By providing real, long-term, training and employment opportunities to local Indigenous people, we are making a genuine contribution to addressing social dislocation and disadvantage.”
Mr Flynn said he remained enormously positive about the long-term outlook for coal, and particularly the high quality coal being demanded by countries that understand the crucial role it has to play in helping achieve a lower emissions future.
“The outlook for coal, particularly the type of high quality, low ash, low sulphur coal we are producing at Maules Creek, is very positive. Total NSW coal export volumes have increased by 3.6 per cent over the last financial year, with Japan and Korea – Whitehaven’s key markets – continuing to be the biggest markets for NSW coal. Maules Creek Mine will play a key role in powering the energy needs of North Asia and contribute to compliance with tighter global emissions standards”, Mr Flynn said.
ABOUT THE MAULES CREEK MINE
The Maules Creek coal mine is located in New South Wales’ Gunnedah Basin, 95 kilometres north west of Tamworth. Maules Creek is the fifth mine in Whitehaven’s portfolio. The mine will more than double Whitehaven’s existing production level and deliver substantial social and economic returns to the local community and the State.
Over 450 local employment opportunities will be created and coal sales will deliver government royalties available for public funding of $2.4bn during its first 21 years of production.
An important focus for Whitehaven is engagement with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Whitehaven will launch its first Reconciliation Action Plan this week, which includes a target of 10 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment at Maules Creek by 2017. Already this target has been met and exceeded.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Since receiving the final approval to commence construction work on this $767 million project, Whitehaven staff and contractors have:
- Worked about 1.2 million man hours, with a peak workforce of around 750 people
- Delivered 22,000 individual items of equipment, piping and steel components to site from construction yards in nearby Narrabri – about 250 of which weighed five tonnes or more.
- Built around 10 kilometres of construction access roads, 12 kilometres of sealed mine access roads, and upgraded about four kilometres of local roads as part of our Voluntary Planning Agreements with Council.
- Developed an 18 kilometre-long water distribution network; including an intake pump station, two booster pump stations, and five distribution and truck fill pumping stations.
- Worked with a total of 105 Registered Aboriginal Parties to survey 38 registered sites within the Application Area and recover over 7,000 Aboriginal artefacts for safe-keeping.
- Successfully installed over 30 kilometres of rail in under 30 days to transport our production trains.
Whitehaven’s total economic contribution includes:
- $215 million spent with local suppliers in the Gunnedah, Narrabri, Tamworth and Liverpool Plains shires over the last financial year, bringing the total spend with local businesses to $572.7 million over the past three financial years.
- Local wages in excess of $125.6 million this financial year. With over 75% of Whitehaven’s 779 FTE employees living in the north west NSW region this money will stay in the local community.
- Donations and sponsorships of local community organisations totalling $182,000.
- Committing more than $26.7 million to local councils via our Voluntary Planning Agreements which fund investment in local infrastructure and services around the region – including the upgrade of roads and Narrabri airport.
- Royalties and taxes paid to the NSW Government totalling nearly $130 million. These royalties are used by the
Government to fund schools, hospitals and other infrastructure required around the State.
Video from the event to come.