Developing the largest greenfield coal-mining complex in Australia
Bechtel designed and built Caval Ridge Mine, the largest greenfield coal-mining complex in Australia, for a joint venture of BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi Development. It is located in the Bowen Basin of Central Queensland and produces hard metallurgical export coal for use in China, India, and elsewhere as coke in steel mills.
The mine's initial production capacity is expected to be 5.5 million metric tons per year, and achieved world-class safety, environment, and health standards.
Coal from Caval Ridge, and from the other of the joint-venture's properties (including Daunia, also built by Bechtel), are shipped out of the Hay Point terminal, currently being expanded by Bechtel. Hay Point is roughly 150 miles (about 240 kilometers) northeast of Caval Ridge, just south of Mackay.
The project includes a coal mine and a coal-handling and -preparation plant as well as other facilities.
By value, coal is Queensland's most important export commodity, and Queensland is the world's largest exporter of seaborne coal. Some 60 percent of the state's coal exports is used in steelmaking, and most of the rest goes to producing electricity.
Inside the project
The Caval Ridge job site extends nearly 17 miles, or about 27 kilometers. The coal is mined from two large open-cut pits that will eventually be nearly 500 feet (some 150 meters) deep. The project team created deep box cuts in the surface soil prior to mining operations—cuts as tall as a six-story building. Then came construction of the facilities and infrastructure to support mining and processing.
The Bechtel team implemented a local buy strategy and spent in Central Queensland almost US$100 million on equipment, materials, and supplies.
Protecting people and the environment
The project team:
- invested millions of dollars to protect wildlife—including such birds as emus—and relocated some 10,000 animals. One of many species rescued and relocated by Caval Ridge crews was the echidna—a spiny, ant-eating, egg-laying relative of the platypus.
- took measures to preserve elements of cultural heritage—including scarred trees, which bear evidence of engraved designs, removed bark or wood, and food harvesting by indigenous people
- recycled more than 600 metric tons of scrap metal—in 2013 alone—and gave the proceeds $100,000—to local charities
- conducted a quit-smoking campaign and provided on-site fitness training
- raised awareness of mental health issues in the workplace, training nearly 2,000 workers