Coal miner major Gujarat NRE Coke today said it would invest $450 million in its coal mines in Australia to take its total annual production capacity to six million tonnes in the next five years, besides creating 150 new jobs.
"The company has an expansion plan to ramp up the production level to 6 million tonnes per annum from both its mines by FY' 2015. We have already invested $450 million in mine development activity and would be further investing another $450 million," Gujarat NRE Coke Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Arun Jagatramka told PTI.
"We presently are directly employing around 500 employees which is expected to go up to 650," he said.
Gujarat NRE Coke, the country's largest independent producer of metallurgical coke-- which is processed from coking coal-- has two coking coal mines in Australia, with an annual production capacity of 2 million tonnes.
GNCL through its Australian subsidiary Gujarat NRE Coking Coal, an ASX listed company, owns and operates two coking coal mines -- NRE No1 Colliery and NRE Wongawilli colliery, in the New South Wales region.
Its Australian expansion plans include mine development, construction of access roads and purchase of services and equipment.
The mines, NRE No 1 Colliery and NRE Wongawilli Colliery, together produce about 1.3 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of coking coal per year.
"The current level of production for the year ended March 31, 2010 was 1.13 MTPA and we expect to produce around 2 MTPA (operating at its full capacity) by the end of this financial year," Jagatramka said.
Asked whether the company was looking to acquire more mines there, he said, "We are always on the look out for any good opportunity." The firm had last year failed in its bid to acquire Rey Resources, an Australian entity.
Also, Jagatramka said that the company planned to strengthen its base in Australian oil and gas sector.
"The Gujarat NRE Mineral Resources owns licenses of two oil and gas exploration block in Australia through its step down subsidiary named Gujarat NRE Oil. We have planned to foray into oil and gas field in Australia through our associate company," Jagatramka said.
Among other Indian firms that have interest in the Australian oil sector, Gujarat NRE Oil says, it's one of the largest petroleum exploration block owners in Australia, having acquired licenses of two oil blocks namely EP 475 and EP 458 of combined area 10640 sq km in onshore Canning Basin, Western Australia.
Onshore Canning Basin has been adjudged as an area with huge potential for petroleum industry by department of Mines and Petroleum, Western Australia.