PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The A$1-billion Winchester South metallurgical coal project has been declared a Coordinated Project by the Queensland government’s independent Coordinator-General.
The opencut mine, which will have a targeted run-of-mine production rate of 15-million tonnes a year of high-quality metallurgical coal, belongs to Whitehaven Coal, which bought the project from mining major Rio Tinto last year.
“This is a project that has the potential to boost the local economy and create well-paid jobs,” State Development Minister Cameron Dick said.
The project would create an estimated 500 jobs during construction and a further 450 jobs when in operation. The project is expected to have a mine life of some 30 years.
Dick said the decision to declare Winchester South a Coordinated Project would help facilitate complex approvals as the project advanced through rigorous environmental, social and economic impact assessments.
Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane said on Thursday that the decision by the Coordinator-General to declare Winchester South a Coordinated Project initiated a comprehensive environmental impact statement (EIS), which involved two rounds of public consultation.
“This is the established process for all major projects, whether they be resources projects, renewable energy projects, tourism projects or infrastructure projects. This is a comprehensive process. It is a process projects like Carmichael Coal have been subject to and resulted in the development of a range of conditions.”
Draft terms of reference will now be prepared by the Coordinator-General, who will invite public comment on matters addressed in the EIS.
If approved, the project is estimated to start construction in 2021, with first coal expected in 2023.