The Lake Vermont coal mine is an open-pit coal mine in central Queensland, Australia that has been producing hard coking and pulverized coal injection (PCI) grade coal since 2008.

The coal mine is owned by the Lake Vermont Joint Venture in which Jellinbah Group has a 70% interest. The other partners of the project include Marubeni Coal (10%), Sojitz Development (10%), and AMCI (10%).

The first coal shipment from the mine took place in February 2009, while the mine’s production capacity was almost doubled to nine million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) in 2013.

Thiess, a subsidiary of CIMIC Group, has been engaged by Jellinbah Group as the operator of the Lake Vermont coal mine since the beginning, while CIMIC Group’s mineral processing company, Sedgman provides operations support services for the coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP).

Thiess was awarded a five-year contract extension effective from January 2022 to provide full-service mining operations, including the introduction of autonomous drilling and semi-autonomous dozer push at the open-pit coal mine, in July 2020.

Autonomous drilling at the Lake Vermont coal mine

In order to ensure increased productivity and improved safety outcomes, Thiess had mobilised two Epiroc Pit Viper 275 (PV-275) autonomous drills at the mine site as of September 2020. It made Lake Vermont the first coal mining operation to use two multi-pass fully autonomous drilling rigs operating side-by-side.

Thiess drilled over 3,000 holes for a total length of more than 90,000m by using autonomous rigs as of September 2020.

Thiess also plans to introduce a third Epiroc PV-275 drilling rig at the mine by the end of 2020.

Project location and geology

The Lake Vermont coal mine is located within the Bowen Basin of central Queensland, Australia, approximately 25km north-east of the town of Dysart. The project comprises two mining tenements namely, MDL 303 and EPC 549.

The mine area is dominated by Rangal Coal Measures of the Late Permian age with shallow angled north-east dips. The project area has two prominent coal seams including the Leichhardt seam with an average thickness of 2.9 meters, and the Vermont seam with an average thickness of 5.8m. The Vermont seam splits down the dip forming the Vermont Upper and Vermont Lower seams.

Coal reserves at Lake Vermont

The Lake Vermont mining lease is estimated to hold more than 200Mt of recoverable coal resources amenable for open-pit mining.

The coal produced at the mine includes hard coking coal with 11% moisture and 7.5% ash content, and the PCI grade coal with 8% moisture and 10.5% ash content.

Mining and coal handling

Lake Vermont is an open-cut coal mining operation utilising drilling and blasting followed by conventional overburden removal with the use of trucks, shovels, and dozers. The mine has a production capacity of 9Mtpa.

The coal extraction is carried out with excavators and the extracted coal is transported by haul trucks to one of the coal processing plants at the site.

The Lake Vermont coal project has two coal handling and preparation plants (CHPP) with a nominal processing capacity of 800 tonnes per hour (tph). Sampling and on-line ash analysis of the coal product are done during the processing.

The processed hard coking and PCI coal products are transferred to the coal stockpiles from where the rail access is available to Gladstone Port and the Abbott Point coal terminals.

Contractors involved

Thiess was engaged by Jellinbah Group as the operator for the Lake Vermont mine in 2007. The full mining service contract with Thiess was renewed in 2012 and the scope of the contract also included the doubling of the production capacity of the mine from 4.6Mtpa to 9Mtpa.

The mining service contract with Thiess was further extended for another five years effective from January 2022.

The Thiess Sedgman Joint Venture (TSJV) was engaged to design, construct, and commission both the 800t/h coal preparation plants at the Lake Vermont mine site. The first CHPP was commissioned in 2008 followed by the second plant in 2011.