In late April, the explorer set 83Mt of resources for the project including 9.5Mt indicated and 73.5Mt of inferred.
In the June quarter, the indicated resource was slightly boosted to 9.8Mt while Northern established the 5.9Mt probable reserve from these resources.
“These reserves have been identified following mine engineering and evaluation over the coal resources identified in and around the planned Colton mine area,” Northern managing director Keith Barker said.
“In addition to the probable reserve, the analysis has identified the potential to extend the reserve area subject to upgrading previously announced inferred resources.”
The small Colton open cut coking coal project is planned to have 500,000 tonnes per annum of capacity and could be up and running by mid-2011.
But further evaluation is likely to provide more options.
Northern said the mine engineering and evaluation work conducted with Runge has potential to extend the Colton reserves in the short to medium term.
“This in turn would offer the opportunity to either extend the mine life or increase the rate of production of the Colton Mine,” Northern said.
“These options will require additional mining lease area and would be subject to a separate approval application process to that currently underway.”
In the meantime, detailed design work remains underway for the project especially for access, power and water infrastructure plus the coal handling and processing plant.
In a refreshing change from the opposition that normally greets new coal projects, Northern revealed there was considerable community support from the Maryborough/Hervey Bay region.
Northern said it had received more than 1000 employment enquiries, mainly from people living in the region, even though the recruitment process had yet to kick off.
“Local businesses are keen to service the project and have been submitting a steady stream of expressions of interest,” the company added.
Northern is expecting the Colton mine to get government approval in the third quarter of 2011 and is aiming for first shipments in mid-2012.
Northern shares shed 3c to $1.07 this morning.