Burton is a past-producing coal mine in the Northern Bowen Basin, Queensland, Australia, proposed to be re-commissioned by Bowen Coking Coal. The open-cut coal mine is currently on care and maintenance.
The Lenton Joint Venture (LJV) acquired the Burton mining leases and mining infrastructure from Peabody Energy Australia Coal in November 2017. The Lenton JV is 90% owned by New Lenton Coal, while MPC Lenton, a subsidiary of Formosa Plastics Group, holds the remaining 10% stake.
Bowen entered into an agreement to acquire New Lenton Coal in December 2021, with plans to restart the Burton mine operations 12 months after the completion of the transaction.
The mine produced coking and thermal coal before the operations were halted in 2016. The mine was in production for 18 years.
The Burton coal mine currently has three unmined open-pit deposits that include Ellensfield South, Plumtree North and Isaac pit. It holds the required mining leases and key environmental approvals to restart operations.
The mine will target the three deposits and is expected to produce 5.5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of product coal for exports.
Location and site details
The Burton coal mine is located in the Northern Bowen Basin, 120km west-southwest of Mackay, Queensland, Australia. The mine is covered by Mining Leases ML 70109 and 70260.
The Ellensfield South and Plumtree North deposits are located south of the open-cut pits mined by Peabody, while Isaac Pit is located north of the existing mine and north of the Isaac River.
Geology and mineralisation
The Burton mine area is located within the Permo-Triassic Bowen Basin, with coal seams appearing within the Rangal Coal Measures and underlying Fort Cooper Coal Measures of Late Permian in age. Fort Cooper Coal Measures occur within the Permian Blackwater Group.
The seams subcrop in the mining lease, dipping 10 to 20 degrees East at Burton and part of the Ellensfield south pit up to 30 degrees. With cumulative thickness ranging from 5m to 10m, the seams occur as split and combine considerably along the strike of the deposit.
The Rangal Coal Measures occur as continuous across the Bowen basin and consist of fine to medium-grained sandstone, siltstone, mudstone and coal, with a thickness of 120-150m. The coal measures contain the Leichhardt and Vermont seams, which were the target seams in the mining carried out up until 2016.
Located on the eastern limb of the Nebo Synclinorium, the Ellensfield South and Plumtree North deposits target the Rangal Coal Measures.
The Burton coal mine was estimated to contain total resources of 64 million tonnes (Mt), with 36Mt in the measured category. The indicated and inferred resources were 18Mt and 11Mt, respectively, as of August 2021.
The mine contained proven and probable reserves of 14Mt and 2Mt, respectively.
Mining method and ore processing
The Burton coal mine will employ an open-cut mining method, with conventional strip mining to be carried out at the suitable floor dips and terrace mining at steeper dips. It previously used conventional truck-shovel methods for mining.
Mining is planned to be conducted using hydraulic excavators, and rear dump trucks for hauling the ore to a run of mine (ROM) stockpile pad located at the mine mouth.
The ROM coal will be sent for washing at the existing Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) located near the mine.
Later, the product coal will be transported on Mallawa Road to the train load out (TLO) facilities, located about 36km from the CHPP. It will be transported 150km to the export terminal at Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal (DBCT), through the Goonyella Rail line.
The mined waste will be drilled and blasted to remove it using large hydraulic excavators and rear dump trucks. It will also be used for backfilling voids resulting from the mining operations at the open pit deposits.
The Burton coal mine infrastructure consists of site access roads, train load-out facilities, administration building, maintenance facilities, dams and water management infrastructure, a CHPP and associated infrastructure, stockpiles, waste storage facilities and electrical infrastructure.
The CHPP comprises 2 X 400tph modules with an annual nameplate capacity of 5.5Mtpa. The mine is expected to see the addition of about 5-7km ROM coal haul from the Burton open-cut pits to the CHPP.
The other infrastructure facilities include Kerlong village for accommodation, a mine industrial area for site offices, haul roads and, power and water infrastructure.
Xenith was contracted by Bowen to estimate resources and reserves for the Burton coal mine in line with the JORC code (2012).
Fraser-Lever, M Resources, Nitro Solutions and Blackrock Mining Solutions were engaged to deliver inputs to Xenith in the estimation study.
Blackrock Mining Solutions was subcontracted by Xenith to assess the geotechnical design parameter for the Ellensfield South, Plumtree North, and Isaac pits, while Fraser-Lever was engaged to carry out an operational readiness study for the mine.
Grant Samuel was selected by Bowen for the financing process of the project.