Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said opening up the Galilee Basin to mining would be worth $60 billion and create 15,000 jobs, stating it was a top priority for his government.
The new frontier in Queensland mining, the Galilee Basin is a vast coal-rich region gaining a lot of attention of late as three major companies have their eyes on opening it up to mining.
Indian conglomerate the Adani Group have plans for a $10 billion project, while GVK-Hancock, a joint venture between Gina Rinehart's Hancock Coal and Indian conglomerate GVK and Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal are also vying to build coal mines in the region.
Newman said yesterday that the region could be a bigger contributor to Queensland’s economy than the coal seam gas industry, stating Indian companies saw the area as a strategic “long-term play”.
"They want coal to come for their thermal power stations day in, day out, week in, week out, month after month, for not 10 years or 20 years or 50 years; they want it to come for 70 to 100 years," Newman said.
Newman said he had visited Adani operations in India, owned by billionaire Gautam Adani, and saw the huge export potential the Galilee region could offer, The Australian reported.
"He owns the power lines, he owns the retail, he wants that coal. Now, the current coal price is not really a big thing in his calculations,” Newman said.
"What he wants is supply security, and he wants to get that supply chain cost down as low as possible.”
Despite concerns around coal prices and the transport of resources to ports, Newman said he was "very bullish" about the Galilee’s development and said the biggest threat to the region was the approvals process.
"We have to get out of this mindset that taking five, six, seven years to approve a major resource project is acceptable," he said.
"It's not, and it doesn't give a better environmental outcome than something that takes a couple of years to do.”
Earlier this month the Newman government announced plans to offer a discount on royalties for companies who commit to mining in the region.
Under the plan, these “first movers” could also be granted access to the T2 site at Abbot Point near Bowen.
"My government is unashamedly all about growing the business of Queensland and we will do all we can to facilitate the projects proposed for the Galilee Basin," Newman said at the time.
While the government has also signed up to an Abbott government plan which aims to streamline the approvals process in a bid to cut green tape.
The deal aims to cut the duplications seen in the current system, resulting in fast tracking decisions on projects.
Gina Rinehart's massive Kevin’s Corner project has received final Federal approval, while Clive Palmer’s $6.4 billion China First Project is awaiting the green light after receiving state approval in August.
Adani’s Carmichael mine EIS is currently under review.