Mining giant BHP has sold its Blackwater and Daunia coal mines to Whitehaven Coal for over $6 billion. 

BHp has sold mines renowned for producing some of the world's highest-quality coking coal, essential for steelmaking.

The Blackwater mine, situated southeast of Emerald, stands as one of the southern hemisphere's longest-running coking coal mines, covering 80 kilometres. 

Meanwhile, the Daunia mine, located southeast of Moranbah in the Bowen Basin, has been operational since 2013.

These mines were part of the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) metallurgical coal joint venture in Queensland, with BHP and Mitsubishi Development (MDP) each holding a 50% interest. 

BHP's decision to divest these mines aligns with its strategy of shifting focus towards materials linked to renewable energy, such as copper and nickel.

Last year, BMA had already sold two central Queensland mines, South Walker Creek and Poitrel, leaving the alliance with seven sites in the Bowen Basin, including Daunia and Blackwater. These two mines collectively employ over 2,500 people.

The Mining and Energy Union (MEU) welcomed the sale, confirming that Whitehaven had assured them that existing enterprise agreements would continue to cover the workforce. 

Workers employed through BHP's labour hire subsidiary Operations Services (OS) would also be offered permanent positions with enterprise agreement conditions.

Whitehaven's CEO, Paul Flynn, expressed optimism about coal demand, despite the global energy transition, and emphasised that Daunia and Blackwater produce crucial metallurgical coal in high demand across Asia, particularly in India and Southeast Asia, where population growth and economic development are expected to drive steel production demand until at least 2051.

The sale, valued at nearly AU$6.5 billion, is subject to certain conditions, including competition and regulatory approvals, and is projected to conclude by June 2024, with Whitehaven assuming control of operations.