Developing the largest greenfield coal-mining complex in Australia

Bechtel designed and built Caval Ridge, the largest greenfield coal-mining complex in Australia, for a joint venture of BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi Development. Located in the Bowen Basin of Central Queensland, the complex produces hard export metallurgical coal for use as coke in steel mills in China, India, and elsewhere.

The mine's initial production capacity was expected to be 5.5 million metric tons per year, and the project achieved world-class safety, environment, and health standards. 

Coal from Caval Ridge, and the JV's other properties (including Daunia, also built by Bechtel), is shipped out of the Hay Point terminal, which was recently expanded by Bechtel. Hay Point is roughly 150 miles (about 240 kilometers) northeast of Caval Ridge, just south of Mackay.

The project included a coal mine, a coal-handling and preparation plant, and other facilities. 

Image gallery

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 donated 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

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 almost $100 million in Central Queensland on equipment, materials, and supplies.