THE Queensland government has approved Anglo American’s $1.7 billion coalmine in the Bowen Basin region of central Queensland, just days after it told Bandanna Energy to re-submit a plan for another mine in the area on the grounds that it was on good farming land.
The Anglo American mine, near Moranbah, inland from Mackay, has already received federal government environmental approval.
After production starts next year, it is expected to produce up to 7 million tonnes a year of high-quality hard coking coal, which will be crucial for Anglo American to meet a target of tripling its coking coal production by 2020.
But in a mark of the sensitivity of the fly-in, fly-out issue, the company has also had to undertake to build 50 houses and townhouses in the Moranbah area, with 16 new homes being completed in February and a further 25 townhouses and four houses are under construction.
Queensland Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said the mine would create 1000 jobs for Queenslanders in the construction phase and 350 permanent jobs.
“A detailed environmental impact statement was approved late last year by the Queensland government, and also by the commonwealth government pursuant to the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999,” he said.
The approval comes at a time when tensions are mounting in the mining industry about investment in Australia, with many companies focusing on costs and preparing for the impact of the carbon tax.
The Queensland government also used the announcement of the approval to highlight its support for mining, especially coming only days after it asked Bandanna Energy to re-submit an application for its proposed Springsure Creek project, which is also in the Bowen Basin but about 300km southeast.
Although the two projects are broadly in the same area, in practice the Bandanna Energy project is in the fertile “Golden Triangle” area, where wheat farmers in particular have been very vocal about the impact of mining on their operations.
Mr Cripps said the company’s application did not meet Queensland’s stringent approval process and was rejected. However, he also invited the company to submit a new application.