CQ BHP Billiton mine breaks records

A RECORD breaking three months for a BHP Billiton coal mine in Central Queensland is a dose of good news, even as the resources powerhouse commits to further cuts.

Its South Walker Creek mine, co-owned with Mitsui, mined 1.69 million tonnes of coal from July to September, helping BHP reach full capacity for its Queensland Coal division.

The eight coalmines in the Bowen Basin moved 14% more coal in the past three months than in the same period 12 months ago.

That is a total of 8.7 million tonnes of coal exported from BHP's Bowen Basin operations, up from 6.9 million tonnes.

The improvement shows that BHP's efforts to increase productivity or "sweat assets" is paying dividends.

Maintenance and infrastructure shifts at its Goonyella Riverside, Peak Downs and Crinum sites mean even better numbers could be on the horizon.

In BHP's operational review released on Tuesday, chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said even after slicing $2.8 billion cash from its budget in the past 12 months, its capital investment would still fall in 2014.

"Our rate of expenditure will decline again next year and if our investment criteria cannot be met in any one project, product or geography, we will redirect our capital elsewhere or we will not invest," he said.

Late last year, then chief executive Marius Kloppers told a Brisbane conference that new coal projects for Queensland were "impossible to justify".

As part of its ongoing drive for savings, in April the miner cut short a contract worth $260 million to Leightons Contractors, replacing them with HSE Mining.

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