Coal developer to double output

One of Australia’s leading mine developers is set to almost double its annual production

Hitachi EH3500AC3 rigid dump truck

QCOAL GROUP is headquartered in Brisbane, with operations in the Bowen Basin, west of Mackay. The company has been exploring coal deposits for more than 25 years, and evolved into a mining developer in 2007 with the opening of the Sonoma Mine, near Collinsville.

QCoal Group’s general manager of mining operations, Danny McCarthy, says the current operational model is for QCoal to set up the mining infrastructure and to engage suitable contracting partners to undertake the various mining services. 

“We now have four mines near Collinsville - Sonoma, Drake, Cows and Jax, which form our Northern Hub of operations. We’ve developed the mines, and the mining activities are carried out by contractors. Our main operator is Thiess,” he says.

The existing mines have approval to produce almost 13 million tonnes per year between them, and QCoal is currently developing a new mine that will almost double that amount. The Byerwen Coal Project, near Glenden, is expected to produce 10 million tonnes a year when at full production, with construction of the mine to begin later this year.

QCoal reinforced its commitment to growth and development in Queensland by also investing in 10 dump trucks and two excavators from Hitachi Construction Machinery Australia (HCA) this year. The arrival of the new equipment is a significant milestone for the independent company, which has previously only operated with contracted equipment.

The new machines are five EH3500-AC-3 dump trucks, five EH4000-AC-3 dump trucks and two excavators - an EX3600-6 and an EX5600-6

“The Hitachi fleet will assist in delivering safe, cost effective operations across our projects,” Danny says. 

“We needed equipment that could handle the demand and be reliable, so a lot of research went into making sure we found products that would cope with our requirements.

“QCoal considers Hitachi the market leader in trucks and excavators. Their products offer good pay loads, high availability – meaning fewer incidents of unscheduled maintenance – and high reliability. With the trucks, the advantages also include great fuel efficiency.”

The new equipment was delivered early this year and is currently being used on the Sonoma Pit in the Northern Hub.

Danny says one of the best aspects of the purchase was having a Hitachi simulator on site, which has helped the mining contractors operators learn to use the equipment.

“Hitachi provided us with a three-day theory and practical training course on the site. The simulator was used to reinforce and extend this training, and confirm operator competency. We’ve also had exceptional, ongoing site support,” he says. 

“While we rarely have problems with the equipment, having access to that level of knowledge and instruction has made our operations flow seamlessly.”

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