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The rail loop is a key part of the mine infrastructure and the "longest lead time item" for the project, the Australian coal producer said on Thursday October 10.

Maules Creek is expected to start production of semi-soft coking coal and thermal coal in the first quarter of 2015, according to Whitehaven’s statement.

The A$767-million ($724 million) project is approved to extract up to 13 million tpy of coal and transport 12.4 million tpy via rail from the site.

Whitehaven Coal sold 408,000 tonnes of metallurgical coal during the June quarter this year.