Glencore will restart operations at the Integra underground mine in the New South Wales Hunter Valley a year after it acquired the mine from Vale.
Integra was placed into care and maintenance by Vale in July 2014, and was the next year sold to Glencore, with the Swiss miner saying it would continue to assess its options against global coal markets.
With the price of coking coal spiking in recent months, to as high as US$257.70 this week, Glencore on November 1 announced plans to reopen Integra for at least two years from early 2017.
The mine is expected produce 1.3 million tonnes of high fluidity saleable coking coal in 2017 “to meet a specific need identified in the metallurgical coal market,” the miner said.
With a number of Glencore’s thermal coal mines closed in recent times, it noted the outlook was still for less overall coal sales from Australia.
But the company’s head of Australian coal operations, Ian Cribb, was upbeat about Integra’s outlook.
“The Integra mine has one longwall block already formed, providing an opportunity to begin mining with minimal delays or additional investment,” Cribb said. “Over the next two years, we also plan to complete and extract coal from a second longwall block that has already been partially developed at the mine.”
The announcement comes less than a month after Glencore announced it would revive operations at its Collinsville open cut mine in Queensland. The company said, when it announced it would recruit staff for Collinsville on October 11, that it was “seeing increased demand from South-East Asia for the specific type of coal produced by Collinsville”.
At full capacity, Collinsville can produce a mix of coking and thermal coal, totalling 6mtpa.