New coal mine approved in Queensland

The Federal government has approved Bandanna Energy's Springsure Creek coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.

Final approval for the $1.2bn mine was welcomed by Bandanna managing director Michael Gray, who said the permit covers the mine area as well as the infrastructure corridor and rail loader.

The underground mine, 47 km south-east of Emerald, will initially produce 5.5 million tonnes of coal from a single longwall, but plans to ramp this up to 11 Mtpa with a second longwall by 2021.

During construction the project will employ 2000 people with around 585 jobs required to operate the mine over its 40 year life span.

However, planning to build the mine under current farming operations has proved difficult for Bandanna which has received objections from affected landholders.

The company said it is working to resolve the objections in coming weeks, but conceded that until this process is finished, the start of construction remains uncertain.

Gray said that Bandanna took its environmental management responsibility very seriously and had completed an extensive and very thorough environmental assessment.

“Bandanna Energy is committed to ensuring the coexistence of mining and agriculture in the region, and our Springsure Creek Agricultural Project is being undertaken as part of the overall project to demonstrate how agricultural productivity in the area is at least maintained whilst the mining takes place to ensure the ongoing viability of the land for agricultural uses.

“In addition the Springsure Creek Project brings much needed regional investment including upgraded infrastructure such as roads and facilities, as well as new jobs, not just at the mine but in the local area as well.

Consultant George Houen is representing several of the landholders and said they have concerns around subsidence and ground water, ABC reported.

Houen said the matter is likely to end up in the Land and Environment Court.

"There's been a lot of discussions over the last several years and those issues [relating to subsidence and groundwater] remain unresolved."

Meanwhile, Bandanna Energy has requested a voluntary suspension from trading on the ASX, while it discusses a restructure of a secured guarantee agreement with Credit Suisse.

It said the finalisation of project funding and a final investment decision also remain uncertain.