The opening of the Byerwen coal mine in North Queensland has been welcomed by the resources industry ahead of its anticipated contribution to the state.
The $1.76 billion joint venture between QCoal and JFE Steel is set to employ 350 people during construction and 500 when in full production.
As a result of a site expansion, production over the life of Byerwen is expected to rise from three million tonnes to 10 million tonnes per annum.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the opening of the site marked a “great day for Queensland and a great day for Queensland jobs.”
“JFE Steel is one of our biggest customers and partners and there simply is no other way to make steel than with metallurgical coal,” Palaszczuk said.
Indeed, JFE remains one of the state’s biggest coal consumers, purchasing 15 million tonnes of metallurgical coal.
The Queensland Resources Council also praised the opening of Byerwen, with chief executive Ian Macfarlane commenting on the project’s significance to the economy.
“The Byerwen coal mine has a potential life of more than 50 years, which means a long-term pipeline of jobs and investment in North and Central Queensland,” Macfarlane said.
“The high-quality coal mined here will be exported to Japan, Europe, India and South East Asia, further strengthening Queensland’s reputation as a world-leading supplier of coking coal that is essential for building modern cities and supplying day-to-day essentials.”
Mines minister Anthony Lynham reinforced this sentiment, saying demand for the state’s resources will continue to grow, driven by global population growth.
“Queensland has a strong future when it comes to coal – demand for metallurgical coal will stay with us as customers like India and China and Japan continue to need steel,” he said.
“We have new projects with coordinated approval like Olive Downs and Winchester South near Moranbah.”
The Coordinator-General is progressing approvals on the $1 billion Olive Downs metallurgical coal mine near Moranbah, which will support 1000 operational jobs and 500 construction jobs. The Winchester South coal project, also near Moranbah, will support another $1 billion of investment and 950 jobs.