The Hillalong coking coal project, currently in exploration stage, is located in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, Australia. Bowen Coking Coal (BCB) is the owner and operator of the project.
Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo agreed to acquire a 10% interest in the project in exchange of a payment of A$2.5m ($1.6m) to BCB in May 2020.
The exploration of the project area is being carried out in two phases with phase one covering Hillalong North and Hillalong South that are classified as priority open-pits.
Hillalong North was announced to hold 43 million tonnes (Mt) of coal resources in June 2020.
BCC also acquired the project tenements EPC 2141 and 1860 which forms the eastern part of the project from Rio Tinto Exploration in May 2018.
The Hillalong coking coal project covers approximately 99km2 in the northern part of Bowen Basin and comprises 31 sub-blocks in an L shape.
The project site lies approximately 105km west-southwest of Mackay and approximately 60km northwest of Nebo, and is located in proximity to Glencore’s Hail Creek coal mine.
The Bowen Basin is a Permian to Triassic-aged formation that extends from Collinsville in the north to Goondiwindi in the south, where it is overlapped by Mesozpic rocks of the Surat Basin, the easternmost extension of the Great Artesian Basin. The Bowen Basin occupies approximately 160,000km2of eastern Queensland.
The Hillalong project lies within the Permo-Triassic region of the basin and contains sub cropping coal seams of the Rangal coal measures (RCM), Fort Copper coal measures, and the Moranbah coal measures (MCM).
The maximum sediment thickness of the basin is about 10,000m concentrated in two north-trending depocentres of the Taroom Trough to the east and the Denison Trough to the west.
In the maiden drill program, target seams were intersected in four of the five target sites and cumulative coal seam thickness per hole ranged between 6.5m and 14m.
The exploration carried out in Hillalong South includes a seismic program to assist with the structural interpretation.
In March 2020, the initial results from the Hillalong South encountered the main target seams, Elphinstone and Hynds, at depths between 116m and 167m with an average thickness of 5.6m for the Elphinstone seam and 2.5m for the Hynds Upper seam.
Coal resources at Hillalong North
Out of the 43Mt of maiden resources at Hillalong North, approximately19.5Mt lies at depths lesser than 150m beneath the surface.
The indicated resources are estimated to be 21Mt, while the remaining 22Mt is classified as inferred.
Farm-in agreement with Sumitomo
Sumitomo signed a farm-in agreement with BBC to acquire a 10% share in the Hillalong coking coal project following a non-binding agreement signed between the two companies in 2019.
The payment of A$2.5m ($1.6m) by Sumitomo, in return, was meant to be spent on phase one exploration activities at the site.
The Japanese company has also the option to spend an additional A$5m ($3.2m)to increase its stake in the project to 20%.
BCC engaged Xstract Mining Consultants to consolidate the historic data and Rio Tinto’s exploration data into a geological model and make recommendations for the project exploration plans.