South Galilee undergoes federal assessment

BANDANNA Energy and joint venture partner AMCI are contemplating multiple longwall operations after initial open cut mining at their major South Galilee coal project in Queensland.

Blair Price

The JV is seeking federal environmental approval for the 20 million tonne per annum thermal coal project.

Located immediately southwest of the town of Alpha, the project area spans 44,380 hectares encompassing land from permits EPC 1049 and EPC 1180.

While a mining lease application will be made to the Queensland government, the JV plans to start construction in 2012 and to ship first coal in 2014-15.

With 982Mt of resources already identified, the JV also kicked off a 145-hole drilling program earlier this month to prove up another 570-960Mt.

The proposed mine life is 43 years while AMCI will manage the feasibility study and other approval processes.

First phase development will prepare an open cut operation while the second phase will include surface and underground mining.

Third phase development will completely centre on underground mining until the resource is exhausted.

Further mine planning will evaluate truck and shovel, shovel and conveyor along with dragline options in “a number of pits” for surface mining.

“Underground mining is likely to be via traditional longwall mining methods and may include multiple longwalls,” AMCI said.

The coal handling and preparation plant for the project might receive coal from haul trucks but an overland conveyor system is also under consideration.

A train load facility will be built to freight out the product coal while tailings and rejects management will need further evaluation.

Options include using storage cells within waste rock emplacements and the construction of purpose-built tailings storage facilities.

AMCI said final voids will also be considered for the tailings as they become available.

With Waratah Coal’s rival Galilee Basin project looking at a mine-mouth power station, AMCI said a similar power station development for the South Galilee project would allow for tailings to be used as an energy source.

AMCI is also looking at extending the existing 275-kilovolt power grid from Lilyvale.

The future mine is estimated to employ 750 for operations but the construction workforce is expected to reach 1500.

Three potentially threatened ecological communities have been identified in the project area.

The federal application was made to meet the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Last year, Bandanna Energy managing director Ray Shaw discussed concept plans for phase one development to cover five open pits of 3km in length.

He said longwall mining could take 23 years using two longwalls aiming for 5Mtpa.

Private resources company AMCI can earn up to half of the South Galilee project by funding exploration and development to the tune of $25 million.

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