Anglo American’s new Aquila mine in central Queensland has achieved its first longwall shear of steelmaking metallurgical coal on schedule and on budget, marking the project’s final stages of construction and commissioning. The mine extends the life of Anglo American’s existing Capcoal underground operations by seven years, after the company’s nearby Grasstree mine reached its end of life in recent weeks.

“We have delivered the Aquila project on time and within our budgeted attributable cost of $226 million,” CEO of Bulk Commodities Themba Mkhwanazi said. “This new mine will have a total average annual saleable production of around 5 million metric tons (mt) of premium-quality hard coking coal and benefits from low capital intensity as we are using the existing infrastructure and systems from our adjacent operations.”

Anglo American said Aquila offers the company highly attractive returns and margins at conservative long-term consensus prices.

The mine uses the existing infrastructure at the Capcoal complex and supports around 600 ongoing operational roles for its Queensland-based workforce, including providing continuity of employment for the Grasstree mining team.

The Aquila mine has been developed as one of Australia’s most technologically advanced underground mines, leveraging Anglo American’s advancements in underground automation technology, remote operations and data analytics. The mine features two longwalls, allowing operations to continue without the downtime that is usually required for longwall moves. Both longwalls are fully remote-capable and will be sequentially operated from a site-based remote operations center on the surface of the mine.

Anglo American’s Capcoal complex comprises the Capcoal Open Cut Mine, Grasstree Mine, Aquila Mine, the Coal Handling and Preparation Plant and associated infrastructure. Aquila is owned 70% by Anglo American and 30% by Mitsui & Co. Ltd.