Leighton Holdings' engineering subsidiary Thiess has been awarded a $570 million contract extension for the Curragh North coal mine in central Queensland.

The extension adds four more years to the existing 10 year contract which the Leighton Holdings subsidiary originally signed with Wesfarmers back in 2010.

Under the contract Thiess is responsible for enhancing productivity with respect to coal mining and overburden removal for Wesfarmers’ Curragh North Coal Mine, located in the coal-rich Bowen Basin in central Queensland.

No changes will be made to the Ultra Class fleet supplied by Thiess as part of the original contract, and Wesfarmers will continue with dragline operations and drill and blast.

Stewart Butel, managing director of Wesfarmers Resources, said Thiess had been awarded the contract extension with a view to improving both the efficiency and economy of operations at Curragh.

“Thiess has worked collaboratively with us to review areas of efficiency and agree on a strategy that will ensure Curragh maintains its position as a cost-competitive operation,” Butel said.

Thiess head Bruce Munco hailed the contract announcement as building on an established relationship with Wesfarmers Resources in the region.

“We have worked closely with Wesfarmers Resources since 2004 at the Curragh North operation and this contract extension will deliver greater value in challenging times to benefit the mine and our stakeholders,” he said.

The windfall contract extension brings the total value of the mining deals obtained by Thiess in the Bowen Basin during just the past month to well over a billion, after the company won a $550 million agreement to provide further assistance to expansion plans for the Lake Vermont mine near Dysart.

The Lake Vermont contract awarded to Thiess in late November built upon another $2.3 billion agreement that the company won last year from Jellinbah Resources to help double production volume at the mine from four million tonnes to eight million.

It’s not all been smooth sailing for Thiess in the Bowen Basin, however, with the loss of two contracts in the area earlier this year – the Collinsville and South Walker mine projects, leading to the scheduled close of the company’s Mackay and Rutherford regional offices on December 20, and the shedding of 40 staff.