A scoping study for Meteor Downs South, which was completed in February 2011, showed the mine to be economic.
Chief executive Tim Hedley said a bankable feasibility study for the Meteor Downs South open cut mine is expected to be completed in fourth quarter 2011.
“This is a positive step for Endocoal. It provides the board and management team confidence that Endocoal can develop Meteor Downs South in a timely manner,” Hedley said.
“Endocoal looks forward to working with the department and other stakeholders to ensure that Meteor Downs South is a win-win for both the local community and our shareholders.”
In April 2011 Endocoal lodged a Mining Lease Application for Meteor Downs South for a proposed 1.5 million tonnes per annum open cut thermal coal mine.
Following the department’s decision, Endocoal will prepare an environmental management plan for Meteor Downs South.
This will involve Endocoal undertaking environmental baseline studies to allow development of the EMP.
This will then support the environmental authority application required to be lodged and considered prior to the grant of a mining lease.
Endocoal expects the EMP process to take approximately 14-15 months.
Assuming the relevant EMP studies and reports prove satisfactory, grant of a mining lease for Meteor Downs South could occur in late 2012.
Production at Meteor Downs South could then commence in 2013 and Endocoal could be producing direct ship thermal coal in 2013, Hedley said.
Endocoal will be using contractors to mine the coal at Meteor Downs South as it uses its capital to pursue its three coal product strategy of thermal, coking and pulverised coal injection coal, Hedley told ILN.
Discussions are underway between Endocoal and a number of parties who either have access to the existing Gladstone RG Tanna port facility or are WICET Stage One participants, with a view to accelerating the production timeline, Hedley said.