The new terms allow for a possible increase in volume from 18 million metric tons (mt) annually, its current level, up to 26 million mt, and will allow for additional flexibility for both parties. All coal will originate from the open-cast mine in Muswellbrook, in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales.

“BHP Billiton was Aurizon’s foundation customer in the Hunter Valley when we commenced operations in the region in 2005,” said Aurizon Commercial and Marketing Executive Vice President Mauro Neves. “The recent opening of our A$180 million Hexham Train Support Facility in Newcastle is a signal of our commitment and confidence in the local coal industry. The facility has strengthened our business to support the growth and future success of our customers.”

Aurizon is the largest freight rail company in Australia.

The announcement follows news earlier this month from BHP that it would cut 290 Mount Arthur jobs in the coming few weeks.

Officials said the impetus for the move was “an extended period of declining thermal coal prices,” and post-cut, the complex will have a workforce of 1,440.