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Caval Ridge is the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s eighth mining operation in the region and is expected to have an initial run rate of 5.5 million tpy.

The mine produced 1.13 million tonnes of coal during April-June. Figures for the September quarter were not available at the time of writing.

“Energy efficiency is a key focus for the mine and was built into its design and management system. This includes the use of highly efficient equipment and the optimisation of truck, shovel and dragline movements,” BHP coal president Dean Dalla Valle said in a statement.

Last month, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance said it would cut about 700 jobs at its Bowen Basin operations as the miner continued to pare costs in a weak price environment.

Dalla Valle said the decision was to ensure the operations remain sustainable. “We are confident that if we maintain our productivity focus then we will continue to have a globally competitive business that will provide employment opportunities for generations to come,” he said.

Steel First’s fob Australia premium hard coking coal index stood at $112.50 per tonne on Friday October 10, down from $133.70 per tonne at the beginning of this year.