Thu Jun 7, 2012 11:04pm EDT
* Mine to produce up to 7 mln tonnes a year coking coal
* Production expected to start in 2013
* State requires company to build housing (Adds Anglo comment)
MELBOURNE, June 8 (Reuters) – Australia’s Queensland state has given Anglo American final approval to build a A$1.7 billion ($1.7 billion) coal mine, paving the way for the Grosvenor mine to start producing coal for export to steel mills in 2013.
The Grosvenor project, designed to produce 7 million tonnes a year of high quality coking coal, is crucial for Anglo American to meet a target of tripling its coking coal production by 2020, the company said.
The decision by the company to go ahead with the mine comes despite loud complaints by the industry about sharply rising operating and capital costs in Australia, regulatory red tape and a carbon tax and mining tax, both taking effect in July.
Final approval followed environmental clearance from the state and federal governments last year.
“The Grosvenor mine will create up to 1000 new jobs for Queenslanders and represents a significant expansion of Anglo American’s Queensland operations,” the state’s Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said in a statement.
Anglo American said it would begin construction work now, with first production expected in 2013 and longwall mining to begin in 2016, in an operation similar to its existing Moranbah North mine.
The project is near Moranbah, a community that has been strained by the coal mining boom in Queensland and an influx of workers who fly in and fly out, putting pressure on local services and infrastructure.
The state has required Anglo American to build homes for workers to help bolster the community as a condition of the mining licence, with the company saying it will build more than 50 new houses and townhouses in the Moranbah area.