(EnergyAsia, June 10 2013, Monday) — India’s GVK Group has selected Australia’s Thiess as the main contractor to develop and operate its A$10 billion Alpha thermal coal project in the Galilee basin in Queensland state. (US$1=A$0.96).

Subsidiary GVK Hancock Coal has set out a plan to develop the giant Alpha deposit over a 10-year period, and will look to Thiess, a wholly owned subsidiary of Australia’s Leighton Holdings Limited, to provide technical, engineering and plant expertise as well as operational and management support.

Hyderabad-based GVK is targeting to start up the mine by 2016, with production rising to 32 million tonnes per year. The bulk of the coal will be exported to Asia.

Paul Mulder, GVK Group’s managing director for coal and infrastructure, said Thiess had successfully undertaken the operations for the Alpha bulk sample pit initiated by Hancock Prospecting in 2010.

Thiess managing director Bruce Munro said:

“It’s important to the development of the Galilee Basin that we deliver efficient and flexible mining solutions that will provide certainty of delivery regardless of the commodity cycle. As a greenfield project, Thiess and GVK Hancock will take innovation to another level and embed industry leading technology and best practice from the early planning stages.”

Michael Wright, Thiess’s executive general manager for Australian mining, said the team is expected to finalise the operational strategy, mine planning and management plan by the end of the year.

“The next six months are a critical time for Thiess and GVK Hancock to work together to reinvigorate Australia’s position as the world leader in safe and highly productive operations. This means resetting the paradigm on everything from plant and equipment, local sourcing to robust employee relations. It’s about setting the tone for what will be Australia’s largest coal mine.”

GVK acquired a combined 79% stake in the combined Alpha coal and Alpha West coal mines, and all of the Kevin’s Corner deposits in Queensland for a total of A$1.26 billion in September 2011. The Indian company is developing a 500-km rail link to deliver coal to a port with the capacity to export 60 million tonnes per year.