Outgoing Vale global coal director Decio Amaral said Vale had also committed an estimated $844 million for the project following the nod from the state government and was now focused on commencing construction.
“We’re looking to start construction as soon as possible, with the first longwall operation in the third quarter of 2015,” Amaral said.
Eagle Downs, located in the Bowen Basin, 20 kilometres northeast of Moranbah, is targeting an average production rate of 4.5 million tonnes per annum over an initial ten-year period.
Aquila welcomed Vale’s commitment to the Eagle Downs project but stressed the need to gain port access.
“This is a great milestone for the Eagle Downs project,” an Aquila spokesman said.
“With the mining lease granted the need to agree on a rail and port solution and a development schedule for the project becomes all the more important.”
Aquila started legal proceedings against Vale over Eagle Downs last year when Vale unexpectedly pulled out of arrangements to secure 4Mtpa of port and associated rail capacity to export through Abbot Point in 2013.
“It is obviously still disappointing that we did not secure rail and port last year as this would have enabled us to proceed with the development immediately,” Aquila said.
Aquila chairman Tony Poli recently told ILN the departure of Amaral, who tendered his resignation last week, would enable a fresh partnership between the two companies.
“I think there’s a real opportunity for Aquila and Vale to sit down and work out their differences and move forward, and we’re happy to have those discussions as we have been for some time,” Poli said.