Capital investments for the expansion are expected to total $70m, of which approximately $15m is targeted for 2010. Metropolitan Mine received final permits to proceed with the expansion in the second half of 2009.
In 2009, Metropolitan shipped 1.5m tons of mostly hard coking coal for export to Asian steel producers. Metropolitan Mine is an underground mine using the longwall method. Its coal ships through Port Kembla south of Sydney.
Peabody has multiple Australian expansion projects targeted at raising the company's metallurgical coal shipments to 12 to 15 million tons per year by 2014, while increasing thermal coal export capacity to 15 to 17m tons per year. Peabody is targeting a 20% to 30% increase in 2010 thermal exports and met coal shipments to meet growing global demand.
Gregory Boyce, CEO and chairman of Peabody Energy, said: "The Metropolitan Mine expansion is one of a number of projects aimed at nearly doubling Peabody's Australian met coal and thermal export platform by 2014.
"China, India and other Asia-Pacific Rim nations are significantly short of quality metallurgical coal. Such coal is in limited supply, but remains a vital ingredient for a steel industry that is recovering in developed markets and expanding in emerging nations."