Ownership: Rio Tinto (82 %) Nippon Steel Australia (8.00%) Marubeni Corporation (6.33%) Sumitomo Corporation (3.67%)
The Hail Creek open-pit mine is 90 kilometres south-west of Mackay in central Queensland.
Up to eight million tonnes of hard coking coal supplied per year from Hail Creek to steel mills in Asia and Europe.
The mine's resources were discovered in 1968 with project feasibility work completed in the 1970s. Construction began at Hail Creek in 2001, and the mine was officially opened in 2003.
The resources at Hail Creek occur in the Rangal and Fort Cooper coal measures of late permian age, contained in an asymmetric, south plunging syncline. Four coal seams are present: Elphinstone, Schammer, Hynds and the high ash Fort Cooper seam. The coal deposit is part of the Bowen Basin, a significant permian coal basin stretching 600km long and 250km wide.
In 2008 the mine produced more than six million tonnes of hard and semi-soft coking coal. After being washed and prepared for sale, the coal is loaded onto trains for transportation 100km to the Dalrymple Bay coal terminal where it is shipped to international customers.
The Hail Creek mine had proven probable reserves of 126Mt, and a measured, indicated and inferred resource of 365Mt, at December 31, 2010.
Operating. On December 29, 2010, Rio Tinto declared force majeure on coal sales contracts from Hail Creek as a result of severe monsoonal rain in central and northern Queensland.
Limited operations resumed but the company was unable to estimate the full impact of ongoing adverse weather, which included Cyclone Yasi in early 2011. Force majeure remained in place at the March 2011 quarter.