We explore a rare world-class mining project, which is setting the global standard in conservation and innovation, with Barry Tudor, Chairman and CEO of Pembroke Resources.
OPPORTUNITIES AND SUSTAINABILITY
Established in 2014, Pembroke Resources emerged from an unusual beginning.
After assembling a group of mining executives with significant experience in the coal mining industry, the organisation received financial backing and commitment from the global private equity business, Denham Capital, before acquiring any assets.
“Denham Capital effectively backed me and the team to execute a strategy we had formulated and agreed upon. This approach has proven to be a key success factor in the implementation and development of the Olive Downs Complex,” opens Barry Tudor, Chairman and CEO of Pembroke Resources.
The Olive Downs Complex, a large-scale, world-class steelmaking coal mine in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, contains some of Australia’s largest coking coal reserves.
“I established Pembroke Resources as a metallurgical coal pure play company, and I remain convinced that steelmaking coal is an excellent commodity to invest in because there are limited reserves of high-quality coking coal available, there is no practical substitute for this type of coal in the steelmaking process, and there won’t be for many decades.
“It’s also important to have a key understanding of the value of your product in use, and subsequently branding this product in direct interaction with end users is a key component of Pembroke Resources’ strategy,” Tudor enlightens us.
Driven by a clear vision, Pembroke Resources has evolved into a sustainable and reliable source of coking coal for the steel industry while adhering to strict environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles.
Indeed, operating in a manner that complies with and surpasses rigorous ecological regulations and expectations is at the core of the company’s philosophy. Moreover, it has earned and maintained the social licence needed for responsible resource development.
For Pembroke Resources, sustainability is a fundamental guiding principle that permeates all aspects of its operations. Tudor recognised the challenges associated with developing a new coal mine and saw the opportunity to showcase a fresh approach to mining that aligned with contemporary values and addressed concerns regarding the environment, carbon emissions, and social impacts.
“The importance of sustainability to Pembroke Resources lies in its vision to go beyond the minimum requirements and set new industry standards. The company’s objective is not only to achieve successful mining operations, but to do so in a manner that contributes positively to the environment, society, and the local community,” outlines Tudor.
This commitment to sustainability is a core part of Pembroke Resources’ ethos. It shapes its decision-making process throughout the life cycle of the Olive Downs Complex, which has ESG credentials ingrained in its very design and development.
The allocation of over 20,000 hectares (ha) of designated conservation areas within the Olive Downs Complex demonstrates Pembroke Resources’ dedication to preserving native fauna and ecological habitats.
“The specialised clinic for koalas and greater gliders, staffed by specialist ecologists and veterinarians, signifies the mine’s commitment to wildlife protection and conservation efforts. The innovative fauna tracking programmes, supported by wildlife experts and generating important academic research, further showcase the mine’s dedication to the preservation and study of native wildlife,” he details.
Furthermore, the 10ha solar farm and green energy project highlights the commitment of the Olive Downs Complex to sustainable energy practices, reducing its carbon footprint and promoting environmental stewardship.
“The importance of sustainability to Pembroke Resources lies in its vision to go beyond the minimum requirements and set new industry standards”Barry Tudor, Chairman and CEO, Pembroke Resources
In 2016, Pembroke Resources acquired the Olive Downs Complex from Peabody Energy. It perfectly coordinated with the company’s investment strategy as an outstanding asset, capable of development that met the highest environmental and operational efficiency standards.
“The complex is a new Tier 1 steelmaking coal development in the world’s best and most mature basin, surrounded by some of the best coal producers on the planet. As a new mine, it is able to implement a best-of-breed approach to mining, rehabilitation, the environment, and sustainability,” reveals Tudor.
Upon completion and full expansion, the Olive Downs Complex will hold immense potential, boasting over 500 million tonnes of open-cut reserves and an impressive mine life of 79 years. It is set to become one of the world’s largest steelmaking coal mines, capable of producing up to 20 million tonnes of run-of-mine (ROM) steelmaking coal annually.
“The rare asset had been on the radar of Mark Sheldon, Pembroke Resources’ Chief Operating Officer, for over a decade as it was a key pipeline expansion asset of MacArthur Coal,” Tudor adds.
Pembroke Resources has also acquired and developed a steelmaking coal asset in the province of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, from greenfield exploration to full production with customers in Southeast Asia and Europe.
“The mining industry is an extremely exciting and fulfilling space to operate in. We are not only providing an essential raw material for one of the most critical materials in the world, but also generating a lot of job opportunities and contributing to state and federal finances,” he reflects.
PLANNING A PROJECT
Considered a rare project in the prevailing ESG and investment landscape, the Olive Downs Complex deviates from the conventional trajectory of major mining companies that are avoiding large greenfield coal developments. Therefore, Pembroke Resources sees it as an opportunity to illustrate a fresh approach to mining that aligns with contemporary values concerning sustainability.
“We operate at the Olive Downs Complex in partnership with world-leading international mining services company, Thiess. The mine is the first project to implement fully autonomous CAT 794 trucks and autonomous drilling at the same site.”
The nature and scale of the project lends itself to implementing this technology to drive superior productivity and sustainability outcomes. The fleet of fully autonomous CAT 794 trucks is a notable achievement of the Olive Downs Complex, as it is pioneering, cutting-edge technology.
It is the first mine in Australia to employ such a fleet and integrate autonomous drills into its operations. This technological advancement enhances productivity and safety while revolutionising traditional mining practices.
“Construction of the project’s first stage is nearing completion, with production already underway and the rail line and processing plant commissioning expected in January 2024. The first coal sales are expected to follow shortly after,” Tudor informs us.
The project’s first stage will have an annual production capacity of six million tonnes of ROM coking coal. Pembroke Resources has outlined plans to swiftly double production capacity, emphasising how the mine was designed and engineered to produce 20 million tonnes per annum and with a modular approach, facilitating future expansions promptly.
A VANGUARD OF THE FUTURE
Built in the 21st century, the Olive Downs Complex is designed to meet modern standards. The project will include major infrastructure, including a coal handling and preparation plant, rail spur, train load-out facility, coal conveyor, stockpiles, electrical transmission lines, water pipeline, and access roads.
“Our priorities remain to complete the construction of this world-class asset on time and on budget and continue production towards mining our high-quality steelmaking coal towards the end of the year.
“While doing this, we will continue to set new standards in environmental and sustainable mining. Even as we strive to achieve these goals, we are equally focused on our first expansion, doubling capacity to 12 million tonnes per annum as soon as it is practical to do so,” finishes Tudor.
As a coking coal project, the Olive Downs Complex will be one of the world’s largest open-cut coking coal mines. At its peak, the mine is expected to produce 20 million tonnes of steelmaking metallurgical coal annually. This will be transported by rail to the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal for export to key international markets such as Japan, India, and South Korea.
The high-quality steelmaking coal produced from the mine will also contribute to national and state economies as well as much-needed infrastructure worldwide.
Importantly, Pembroke Resources is providing the opportunity for people to live in towns near the mine, including Moranbah and Dysart, and is building sustainable futures for the communities in which the Olive Downs Complex operates.