In a presentation to the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy southern Queensland branch yesterday, QRC chief executive Michael Roche outlined the situation “after the deluge”.
He said 81% of the state’s coal mines were operating under restrictions while 8% were yet to resume normal operations.
Mines need a state government-approved transitional environmental program to discharge floodwater and Roche said there were 44 coal mines and seven coal seam gas sites which either had or were still seeking TEPs.
About a month ago, a Department of Environment and Resource Management spokesperson said 18 mines still needed TEPs.
The QRC made high and low-impact forecasts on the mining-related costs of the flooding in the state.
The low-impact forecast is 30 million tonnes of lost coal production which would cost the state government $400 million in lost royalties.
Under a worst-case scenario, QRC expects 53Mt of lost production valued at $9 billion, causing $700 million of lost royalties.
The Queensland government is expecting lost royalties of $200 million for the current financial year.
Roche noted the remaining rail damage was limited to the Western and Rolleston lines, and that road haulage should be allowed for the mines affected.
The big Rolleston dragline operation, which can produce up to 8 million tonnes per annum run-of-mine, remains isolated by rail while damage to the Western rail system from Brisbane to Toowoomba has cut off New Hope’s key Acland mine.
Peabody Energy’s Wilkie Creek mine and Syntech Resources’ Cameby Downs mine also need the Western rail line.
To speed up recovery, Roche is calling for DERM to use emergency provisions of the Environmental Protection Act, plus extend the effective use of TEPs.
He also wants a long-term solution, which includes planning to manage future events of such magnitude.
QRC estimates the state has potentially 181 years of coal production at the pre-flooding level of output.
The key Bowen Basin was forecast to hold 20.98 billion tonnes of in situ raw coal.
The emerging Surat Basin was estimated to hold 4.2Bt.
The unexploited Galilee Basin, subject to major investment from four different groups including proposals driven by billionaires Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart, was forecast to hold 2.2Bt.
But the council noted that company estimates of this basin were closer to 14Bt.
QRC expects the Clarence-Moreton Basin in the south of the state to hold 2.25Bt, while the nearby Tarong Basin could hold 1.4Bt.