Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson joined RTCA managing director Hubie van Dalsen at a ceremony on Friday to mark the start of earthworks for the opencut mine.
First coal is expected in early 2010 for the mine, which will be mined by opencut truck/shovel methods and will feature an in-pit crushing and conveying system to halve haul truck use.
Dalsen said the Clermont mine should reach full capacity in 2013, producing up to 12.2 million tonnes of high quality thermal coal per year.
The mine is a joint venture project between Rio Tinto (50.1%), Mitsubishi Development (31.4%), J-Power Australia (15%) and JCD Australia (3.5%).
Dalsen also announced Rio Tinto's intention to make a multi-billion dollar investment in Queensland that would double its coal exports in the next seven years.
“Our aim is to lift our Queensland production from 21 million tonnes of thermal and coking last year, to 40 million tonnes per annum by 2015,” Dalsen said.
“We believe we have the resources and reserves base to do this.
“We will pursue organic growth opportunities at all of our operations – Kestrel, Hail Creek and Clermont – and we are evaluating greenfield opportunities in the region.”
Dalsen said the growth plan had been developed based on infrastructure expansions that are underway or scheduled to occur over the next seven years in Queensland.
“The planned new rail track, new rolling stock, port expansions and the work by the Goonyella Coal Chain central coordinator are vital to underpin this growth in the mining industry," Dalsen said.
The Clermont mine will employ 400 people during construction, and approximately 380 during operations.
Coal will be transported on a 13km conveyor to the existing product stockyards, stacker/reclaimers and train loadout facilities at the company’s Blair Athol mine and exported through the Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal.