The Goonyella Riverside coal mine is located in Central Queensland, Australia. Image courtesy of Downer Group.
Goonyella Riverside is one of the seven mines operated by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA). Image courtesy of BHP.
The Goonyella Riverside mine produced more than 17Mt of coking coal in 2019. Image courtesy of BHP.

The Goonyella Riverside open-pit coal mine located in the Bowen Basin of Central Queensland is Australia’s third-biggest coal mine by recoverable coal reserves.

Goonyella and Riverside were originally operated as two separate open-cut coal mines. The Goonyella mine commenced operations in 1971, while the adjoining Riverside mine was brought into production in 1982. Both the mines were merged into a single operation in 1989.

Goonyella Riverside is one of the seven mines owned and operated by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) in the Bowen Basin. The remaining six mines are Blackwater, Broadmeadow, Caval Ridge, Daunia, Peak Downs and Saraji.

BMA is a 50:50 joint venture between BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi that was formed in 2001.

Location and geology

The Goonyella Riverside coal mine is situated in the northern part of the Bowen Basin, approximately 30km north of Moranbah and 190km south-west of the Hay Point port facilities in Central Queensland, Australia.

The open-pit mine targets three coal seams namely Goonyella Upper, Goonyella Middle, and Goonyella Lower. The average thicknesses of these coal seams are 3.9m, 7.5m, and 8.5m, respectively.

The Goonyella coal seams are located within the Moranbah Coal Measures (MCM) of the late-Permian age. Comprising sandstones, siltstones, mudstones, claystones, and coal, the MCM  extends more than 300m-deep below the surface.

Goonyella Riverside coal reserves

The Goonyella Riverside coal mine was estimated to hold 549 million tonnes (Mt) of recoverable coal reserves, including 530Mt of proved and 19Mt of probable ore reserves as of June 2019.

The open-pit mine was also estimated to contain 784Mt of measured and 32Mt of indicated coal resources.

Production from the Goonyella Riverside coal mine

The Goonyella Riverside coal mine produced 17.1Mt of metallurgical coal in the year ending 30 June 2019, compared to 15.9Mt in 2018.

Mining and coal processing

Goonyella Riverside is an open-cut coal mine involving conventional drill-blast-load-haul operations.

Draglines, trucks, and shovels are used for overburden removal and coal extraction.

The mining fleet includes Marion 8050, BE 1370 and BE 1350 draglines, Cat 994 front end loaders, Terex O&K RH 170 and Liebherr R 9800 excavators, P&H4100XPB and P&H4100A shovels, Cat 784 bottom dump trucks, as well as Cat 793 and Komatsu 930 E rear dump trucks.

A satellite-based tracking and monitoring system is used to manage the coal mining fleet. In November 2019, BMA planned to introduce an automatic haulage system at the Goonyella Riverside mine by the second half of 2020.

The run-of-the-mine (ROM) coal is trucked to the nearby coal handling and processing facilities. The raw coal is crushed to 50mm-size, before being subject to dense medium separation and column flotation to produce fine coal products.

Coal transportation

The coal output of the Goonyella Riverside mine is transported by rail to BMA’s own Hay Point Coal Terminal near Mackay, as well as the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal at the Port of Hay Point and the Abbot Point Coal Terminal near Bowen, for shipping

Contractors involved

Downer Group was awarded a two-year mining services contract for the Goonyella Riverside coal mine in October 2019, replacing a similar contract that commenced in 2016 and expired in September 2019.

The scope of the £105m (A$200m) contract includes pre-strip overburden removal at the Goonyella Riverside with the use of existing equipment.

Thiess, a subsidiary of CIMIC Group, was earlier engaged for the overburden removal at the mine.

Golding Contractors, a subsidiary of NRW Holdings, was awarded a £17.7m (A$34m) civil works contract for 950,000m³ of earthworks and ten kilometres of new pipework at the Goonyella Riverside mine site in July 2019.