(EnergyAsia, August 1 2012, Wednesday) — Contract miner Thiess said it has been awarded a six-year contract worth A$2.3 billion to expand operations at Jellinbah Group’s Lake Vermont coal mine in Australia’s Queensland state. (US$1=A$1.07).

Thiess has agreed to expand current operations with the aim of doubling production at the resource-rich Bowen Basin mine to eight million tonnes a year.

Located 20km north of Dysart, Lake Vermont mine currently has a total workforce of more than 350.

Managing director Bruce Munro said the substantial contract is a tremendous endorsement of the relationship between the Jellinbah Group and Thiess, which began with the establishment of the Lake Vermont mine in 2007.

“Thiess is very proud to continue its involvement at the Lake Vermont mine where we’ve been working with the Jellinbah Group from the very beginning to plan, build and operate the mine,” he said.

Jellinbah Group CEO Greg Chalmers said the continuation of Thiess as a long-term mine operator ensures continuity in the delivery of cost competitive coal from the mine.

“We look forward to working closely with Thiess to maximise the value of Lake Vermont and continue the mine as a safe, reliable, responsible and productive operation,“ he said.

Hamish Tyrwhitt, CEO of Leighton Holdings, the parent company of Thiess, said:

“This is an excellent outcome for the Leighton Group and confirms our positive long-term outlook for commodities and contract mining, both in Australia and Asia.”

Thiess’ executive general manager of Australian mining, Michael Wright, said:

“We are mobilising ultra-class mining fleets to meet the increased production requirements and we are truly excited by the opportunities this brings to the people of the Dysart area.”