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Sojitz Blue’s Crinum underground mine is due to start producing coal by the end of the year after the announcement of a $600 million mining services contract for Mastermyne Group.

The bord and pillar mining operation is expected to employ 180 full-time personnel in full production.

Sojitz Blue acquired the mothballed Gregory Crinum complex near Emerald from BMA in 2019 and is already mining from the Gregory open-cut area.

Crews successfully re-entered the sealed underground mine in late October 2020 and Mastermyne has been acting as the mine operator whilst Sojitz finalised internal approvals for the restart.

Mastermyne said today its contract term was seven years, with about six months for the re-establishment phase of the mine followed by six and a half years in the mining production phase.

The project scope includes the re-establishment of the underground infrastructure including conveyor systems, ventilation, associated mine services, remediation works and surface infrastructure.

Following the re-establishment works the mine will immediately transition into production, with a staged ramp up to three bord and pillar mining units.

The underground mine will produce about 11 million tonnes ROM (run of mine) coking coal over the life of the project.

Mastermyne chief executive officer Tony Caruso described the execution of the group’s first whole-of-mine-operations contract as a major milestone.

It was significant in transitioning the business into a commercial model that was not only complimentary to the existing contracting model but would provide an even greater level of earnings certainty over the long term, he said.

“We have been working with closely with Sojitz for some time after being selected as their contracting partner early in the feasibility process and we look forward to continuing to work with Sojitz and the mine management as we move into production,” he said.