Cuesta Coal bucks trend, expands coal operations in QLD

Cuesta Coal has announced plans to fast track a coal tenement into production near the closing Blair Athol Mine at Clermont.

Having delivered an encouraging drilling result, the company wants to fast track plans at its Moorlands deposit.

Chief operating officer Keith McKnight said the company was confident it could work through the approvals process and bring the open cut operation into production by 2016, CQ News reported.

"It would be a low strip, smallish scale operation which would by no means replace Blair Athol, but we are looking at a 1.5 million tonnes run of mine operation and we are quite bullish about its chances,” he said.

"… This is our most advanced project and that's why we are in the business – to get mines operational."

The Moorlands deposit is part of Cuesta's West Bowen Coal Project, which stretches over an area of 1000sq km located 25km west of Clermont..

"We have done some preliminary investigations and believe there is an opportunity to get some rail allocation and some port allocation from Dalrymple Bay in the short term," McKnight said.

"If you look at this project and where the current coal price is, and think it could be profitable, then you have to be confident about the long-term outlook.

"The exchange rate doesn't help… but we think the long-term demand for thermal (coal) for power generation will remain strong."

McKnight praised the Newman Government for removing strict regulatoty conditions on miners and explorers.
"The new government has thrown its support behind the industry," he said.

"We have seen a noticeable difference on the processing of applications and the overall response time."

The confidence in the future of coal prices shown by Cuesta has not been echoed by other miners in the area who have cut jobs and shelved coal projects, often blaming low commodity prices.

BMA closed its Norwich Park coal mine in March this year and also announced plans to shelve Red Hill Mine near Moranbah as well as Saraji East mine plans, near Dysart.

Xstrata Coal cut jobs at its Oaky Creek mine citing a ‘challenging market’ for the restructure.

Image: Central Telegraph

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