03/07/14 – Queensland green lights new $1.76bn coal mine

Queensland has given the go ahead for a $1.76 billion Australian dollar coal mine that it forecasts will create hundreds of jobs in a region struggling with the impact of weakened prices for the fuel.

Privately owned QCoal and Tokyo-based JFE Steel Corp plan to produce as much as 10 million metric tons of coal a year from the planned Byerwen operation, located in the north of the state’s coal-rich Bowen Basin. The coking and thermal coal from the eight planned open-cut pits is primarily destined for Asian steel mills.

About 350 jobs would be created during construction and a further 545 when the mine is up and running, Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said in a statement. The venture has committed to offering jobs to local residents of nearby towns such as Moranbah and Collinsville.

“The project could also have flow-on benefits to nearby towns and businesses, creating even more local jobs,” Mr Seeney said.

Thousands of mining jobs have been cut in recent years across eastern Australia as resources companies have been hit by a fall in coal prices. The price for coking coal has fallen almost 15 per cent so far this year while thermal coal is down about 16 per cent, according to data from RBC Capital Markets.

The state’s approval came with 122 conditions that the venture must comply with during construction, operation and when mining operations are eventually closed. The application for the operation next goes to the federal government for environmental approval.

QCoal and JFE Steel didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the project. Previously the companies said the operation would take about two years to build, while coal production should last 46 years.

Source – TheAustralian.com.au