Wilpinjong is based on a large resource of coal with a very low strip ratio (1.3:1) compared with typical Hunter Valley mines (6:1). Product coal is approximately 75 per cent Raw Domestic Thermal and 25 per cent Washed Export Thermal, supplying the local and international markets.
Thiess’ overall scope embraced earthworks, civil concrete works, tailings dams, roads, rail and loadout facilities, offices and workshops, structural fabrication and erection, process, electrical and controls, testing and commissioning together with a five year mining agreement. The contract for delivery of the infrastructure and mining was a collaborative arrangement between client and contractor.
Thiess worked closely with Excel Coal from the initial concept, assisted with approvals, managed the design and delivered the infrastructure and facilities. This seamless process of integrated solutions for coal processing design and construction was continued to ongoing mining operations. A 50:50 joint venture between Thiess and Sedgman undertook the design and construction of the Coal Preparation Plant for raw coal crushing and washing, as well as stockpiling and associated train loading facilities.
In late 2006, Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, acquired Excel Coal and ownership of this development. All of the major plant on site has been fitted with GPS systems, ensuring an accuracy of within 100mm for levels and position.
Other examples of Thiess’ focus on increased productivity are the use of larger bucket sizes on the excavators to match the low-density overburden, larger volume bodies on the haul trucks to optimise loads and the use of modified dozer blades with enhanced fill characteristics.