Narrabri Mine is located in New South Wales, Australia. (Credit: Angela from Pixabay)
The mine produces low ash, high energy, low sulphur thermal, and Pulverised Coal Injection (PCI) coal. (Credit: Анатолий Стафичук from Pixabay)
Narrabri mine is approved to produce 11 million tonnes (Mt) of thermal coal per annum until 2031. (Credit: Ben Scherjon from Pixabay)

Narrabri Mine is an operational coal mine located in north-west New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

The mine produces thermal coal and pulverised coal injection (PCI) coal in small quantities.

Narrabri Coal Operations (NCOPL) operates the project on behalf of Narrabri Mine Joint Venture (JV).

The JV comprises Whitehaven Coal’s wholly owned subsidiaries Narrabri Coal (NCPL) (70%) and Narrabri Coal Australia (7.5%).

Other partners are Upper Horn Investments (Australia) (7.5%), J-Power Australia (7.5%), Posco International Narrabri Investment (5%) and Kores Narrabri (2.5%).

The first stage of Narrabri Mine received development consent in November 2007, and production commenced in 2010.

This was followed by Stage II development consent in July 2010. The Stage II production began in 2012.

According to Stage II development consent, Narrabri mine is approved to produce 11 million tonnes (Mt) of thermal coal per annum until 2031.

Narrabri Mine Location

The Narrabri underground coal mine is located approximately 25km south-east of Narrabri and approximately 60 km north-west of Gunnedah. It is situated within the Narrabri Shire Local Government Area (LGA) and in the North West Slopes and Plains region of NSW.

The site is located immediate west of the Kamilaroi Highway and the Werris Creek Mungindi Railway. The highway is used to access the mine, while the railway is used to transport coal to the Port of Newcastle for export.

Narrabri North Mine is centred on Mining Lease (ML) 1609, whereas Narrabri South is on Exploration Licence (EL) 6243.

Geology, Mineralisation and Coal Resources

The Narrabri Mine is situated within the Permo-Triassic Gunnedah Basin, which is the middle of the north-south elongated Sydney-Gunnedah-Bowen Basin system.

The rocks and sediments at the site are usually categorised into undifferentiated Quaternary sediments; Jurassic Surat Basin sequence; and the Gunnedah Basin sequence.

The coal resource at the mine comprises Hoskissons Seam, a thick, dull coal with a basal working section of around 4.2m thickness, that strikes generally north-south and dips to the west.

The seam is cut off at a depth of approximately 160m in the eastern half of ML 1609. The lower portion features low-ash coal suitable for thermal applications, while the upper section contains high-ash stony coal and tuffaceous claystone bands.

As per August 2022 data, the total Measured and Indicated resource of Narrabri North Underground is estimated to be 270Mt. The total Measured and Indicated resource of Narrabri South Underground stood at 313Mt.

Recoverable resources at Narrabri North Underground and Narrabri South Underground were 69Mt and 97Mt, respectively.

Mining operations at Narrabri  

The first stage of mining at Narrabri used bord and pillar and partial pillar extraction to produce coal.

In Stage II, Narrabri was allowed to extract coal using longwall mining methods to boost production.

The coal recovered from the mine is transferred via a conveyor system to the Pit Bottom Area and then carried to the surface via the drift conveyor.

The ROM coal is then fed to a rotary breaker to reduce the size of the coal, which is then transferred to the Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP). The waste generated is disposed to the reject emplacement area.

The CHPP produces combined (partly washed) thermal coal; washed PCI coal; coarse coal reject material; and coal fines.

From CHPP, product coal is transferred to the product coal stockpile via conveyor. The product coal received from the secondary bypass crusher is mixed with thermal coal on the product coal stockpile.

The coarse coal reject material is disposed, while coal fines are either disposed of or blended with thermal coal.

The product coal is finally loaded via conveyor onto trains for transport via the Werris Creek Mungindi Railway to the Port of Newcastle for export.


The Stage I infrastructure included site access road, main office, administration and light vehicle carpark, workshop and stores buildings, electrical sub-station and associated electricity infrastructure, sewage treatment plant, box cut and mine portals, drift construction and conveyors and coal crushing station.

The first stage also saw the delivery of coal and product coal pad hardstand areas, train loadout bin and train loader, water storages and lined evaporation ponds among others.

The Stage II involved the construction and use of mine ventilation and gas drainage infrastructure, including the 5.5m diameter blind bored ventilation shaft with associated fan installation, mine dewatering facilities, water pipeline from the Namoi river and completion of the Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP).

The power required for mining operations is supplied via spur line connected to a 66kV powerline. This is reduced to 11kV for use on the mine site.

Water is supplied to the mine area via a pipeline from the Namoi River.

Contractor Involved

AECOM was engaged to supply full time onsite environmental secondment personnel and engineering secondment personnel to support construction at Narrabri.

Narrabri Stage 3 Extension Project

The Narrabri Stage 3 Extension Project was approved by the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) in April 2022. This will extend the life of the mine from 2031 to 2044.

Stage III Extension Project development plan aims to extract coal from the south of the existing Narrabri mine using underground longwall mining method and existing infrastructure.

It will also support continuation of around 500 jobs for an additional decade.

In July 2023, the NSW Land and Environment Court dismissed judicial review proceedings with respect to the extension.

Whitehaven will begin project works after it secures Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) approval.