The decision to declare the proposed Byerwen coal mine in Queensland a “significant project” has been welcomed by the Treasurer and Minister for State Development and Trade Andrew Fraser.
The Coordinator General made the announcement yesterday while in Tokyo, during a brief with JFE Steel, the joint developer of the project with QCoal.
"Japan-based JFE Steel is one of Queensland’s largest export customers, and has long supported the Queensland economy," Fraser said.
"The joint venture with QCoal proposes a coal mine located at a Greenfield site in the northern Bowen Basin, approximately 140km west of Mackay, near the mining townships of Collinsville and Glenden.
"Today’s decision by the Coordinator-General now allows JFE Steel and QCoal to start work on the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The Minister said the project would be highly beneficial to the region.
"The proposed $1.5 billion project is expected to produce up to ten million tonnes per annum of high-quality, metallurgical coking coal primarily for the Japanese and Asian export market over a lifespan of 50 years.
"Up to 500 jobs could be created during construction and up to 1000 jobs at its full operational stage.
"If approved, this will be a substantial investment for Queensland and will ensure the longer-term future of townships in the area that rely on mining for their survival."
He said the proposed project would be both an open-cut coal mine and an underground mine and would use existing rail facilities to move the coal to the export terminal at Abbot Point.
Following state and federal approvals, construction on the open cut mine could begin as early as 2012, but Coordinator-General Keith Davies said declaring the project a “significant project” does not necessarily mean it will gain approval or support.
Rather, it is the beginning of the EIS process.
"This declaration is recognition of the significant complexity of the proposed project," Mr Davies said.
"It marks the start of a rigorous and thorough assessment of the proposed project, which will consider the project’s environmental, economic and social impacts.
"The next step for Byerwen Coal is the preparation of draft Terms of Reference for the EIS. These will be circulated to key stakeholders and advertised for public comment in the coming months."
Image: The Australian