Extra hurdles for Galilee projects

QUEENSLAND Coordinator-General Colin Jensen has declared Bandanna Energy and joint venture partner AMCI’s $A1.5 billion South Galilee coal project a “significant project” which requires cumulative impact evaluation to meet state environmental approval.
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Oaky Creek equipment on the water.

Blair Price

“This declaration is recognition of the significant complexity of the project, the substantial benefits it may bring and the need to carefully assess its impacts and how they could be mitigated if the project is approved,” Jensen said.

The environmental impact statement process and assessment would include an evaluation of the cumulative social impact of all the Galilee Basin projects on communities in the region.

Assessing the cumulative impact of coal mining operations in a region can be difficult as coal companies need to share relevant data with each other.

In this case it could be more difficult as there are no coal operations in the unexploited Galilee Basin, but there are other major projects from private companies Waratah Coal and Hancock Coal.

Premier Anna Bligh recognised the benefits of the South Galilee project, saying it could generate 2000 construction jobs, a permanent workforce of 750 to operate the mine and numerous support jobs for suppliers and contractors.

“This ambitious project has the potential to operate for at least 40 years and it is a massive vote of confidence in Central Queensland and the resource industry here,” she said.

“It is the fourth major coal mine proposal in the Galilee Basin and could produce up to 20 million tonnes per annum of high-volatile, low-sulfur steaming coal for export to international markets.

“The project will target thermal coal at depths suitable for both open cut and underground mining over the next 43 years if it passes the strict environmental criteria.”

Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Stirling Hinchliffe said South Galilee would use the common rail and port infrastructure required for Hancock’s Alpha and Kevin's Corner projects along with Waratah’s project to export coal through Abbot Point.

“Plans for common-user water and power transmission for these projects are also being developed,” he said.

Bandanna managing director Dr Ray Shaw said a comprehensive stakeholder consultation process would be launched to pursue feedback and input from the Galilee communities.

“There are still a number of steps to undertake, including an environmental impact statement, but the South Galilee project now has increased importance for Queensland and better channels with which to move forward,” he said.

The Bandanna-AMCI JV is also seeking federal environmental approval for the 20Mtpa thermal coal project.

Located immediately southwest of the town of Alpha, the project area spans 44,380 hectares and encompasses 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 kicked off a 145-hole drilling program earlier this month to prove up another 570-960Mt.

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

First-phase development will pave the way for open cut mining, the second phase will also involve longwall mining and the third phase will be solely underground mining.

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

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

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

Last year, 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.

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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