Xstrata Coal has ambitions of operating a 100 million tonne per annum coal complex near the Queensland town of Wandoan by the 2020’s.
The company’s communications manager James Rickards told MINING DAILY that the complex would actually comprise a combination of four separate mines.
“The first of these mines is going through the approvals process at the moment,” he said.
“We are well advanced in the environmental studies and are expecting to complete our feasibility studies by the end of 2010.”
The first mine would produce around 30 million tonnes per annum from a coal reserve of around one billion tonnes and a resource of around 3.4 billion tonnes.
In all, the Wandoan tenements have a total exploration target of between 4.1 and 7.7 billion tonnes.
According to Rickards, reports that the project could cost up to $15 billion were reasonable, given that the first mine will cost $3 billion to construct alone.
“All-up, the total investment for the current project will be around $6 billion, including upstream infrastructure and construction,” he said.
“Once the current project is in place, the infrastructure costs would be lower if we build the other projects.”
The company is investigating its infrastructure options, such as the long-term feasibility of developing the coal terminals at Wiggins Island and Balaclava Island.
“The total Wandoan project is highly dependant on the completion of feasibility studies for infrastructure,” Rickards said.
“There are proposals like the Surat Basin rail project as well as Queensland Rail upgrades that will have a big impact.
“So there is still a lot of infrastructure that has to go in before these Wandoan projects can be guaranteed.”
According to Rickards, the company hopes to have to the complete complex fully-operational within the next ten to 20 years.
“It will take quite a while to reach production of 100 million tonne per annum, but we feel it could happen in the 2020’s,” he said.
“However, the current project has an expected start-up date of 2014.”