BHP mulls sale of Australian coking coal mine

BHP Billiton Ltd, the world's biggest miner, is considering a possible sale of its Australian coking coal mine in Queensland, amid falling prices for the commodity and mounting operating costs.

The Gregory Crinum coking coal mining complex is operated by the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), a 50:50 joint venture between Melbourne-based BHP and Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsubishi Corp.

The miner is also investigating ways in which it can keep the mine and further extend its life, The Wall Street Journal reported citing a BHP spokesman's emailed statement.

The Gregory Crinum mining complex, which began operations in 1979, consists of an open-cut mine, underground mine and coal handling plant located about 375 km northwest of Gladstone, a major Australian port.

Last year BHP shut down the open-cut operation due to slumping coal prices while the underground mine is operational and remains profitable and viable, according to the spokesman.

The mine has an estimated reserves of over 8 million tonnes of coking coal and a mine life of four years.