Operational Readiness and Project Development for an Underground Coal Project

This case study presents the Project Readiness Phase Project of delivery of an underground coal project conducted by Talisman on behalf of our client. The project entailed extensive planning and readiness phases, addressing challenges related to procurement timelines and environmental approvals amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian conflict.


The project comprises the development of an underground coal mine and associated surface infrastructure to extend the life of an existing mine. It is located approximately 14 km north of the town of Blackwater and 200km west of Rockhampton. The project is being developed by a fully owned subsidiary of our client. Studies to assess the feasibility of the proposed development have been completed to PFS standard. As a result, our client intends to accelerate development by establishing an underground mining operation in the south of the resource area to opportunistically take advantage of current high coal prices and available capacity in the local Coal Preparation Plant. The Project Readiness Phase commenced in April 2023 and will run in parallel with the commencement of the project (Execution Phase).


The overall objective of the Project is to deliver an executable mine design that ensures the resulting mining operation can be conducted safely and sustainably, is technically feasible and financially viable, supported by a sound plan for its execution that assures its delivery on time and within budget. The planning and organisation of the project were initiated with a systematic analysis of the requirements, the alignment of the project’s objectives with our client’s strategic timeline, and optimisation of the studies completed to date. The proposed Readiness Phase is designed to ensure minimal financial risk by focusing on a cost-effective approach to the mine’s development. To facilitate this, a meticulous strategy was developed to address potential constraints, including environmental approvals, procurement logistics, and maintaining a low capital expenditure. Crucially, the strategy involved consistent communication and full transparency to secure successful outcomes. In order to ensure the project’s executability and optimisation, a lean and accountable team was assembled, with individuals bearing singular responsibility for each of the functional areas. This approach aimed to reduce unnecessary overheads and foster more efficient outcomes by facilitating direct reporting to the project team. It encompassed various aspects of the project, including people management, safety, environmental considerations, operating systems, equipment procurement, stakeholder engagement, capital allocation, corporate governance, cost management, and operational control.


Based on the plans laid out and the detailed execution strategy, it is expected that the project will extend the life of the existing mine, improve coal extraction efficiencies, provide commercial efficiencies by utilizing existing infrastructure, and ensure environmental compliance and sound management. The project is also expected to have a significant impact on the local economy by generating employment opportunities and contributing to the regional economic development. The actual outcomes and impacts of the project will be measured and evaluated against the objectives set out in the Project Readiness Phase once the project execution begins.

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