Australia’s Queensland state approves giant coal mine

Olive Downs, poised to become Queensland’s third-largest coal mine, is located 40 km south of Moranbah in the Bowen Basin. (Image courtesy of Pembroke Resources.)

Australia’s Queensland authorities have granted Pembroke Resources a mining lease for its A$1-billion (about $710m) Olive Downs mine, poised to become the state’s third-largest coal operation.

The mine, 40 km south of Moranbah in the Bowen Basin, will have a productive life of 80 years and will create 1,000 jobs, Queensland Premier and trade minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

Core construction activities at the mine site are expected to begin in 2021 with mining starting as soon as construction is complete, State Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said in the statement, without providing details on when that would be.

Olive Downs will be Queensland’s third-largest coal mine 

Pembroke chief executive officer Barry Tudor said the approval of the mining leases was the final hurdle to beginning stage one of the project.

“We are extremely pleased to have been granted the mining leases, having consulted extensively with the local community over the past four years,” he said in a separate statement.

In its first phase, the mine is slated to churn out six million tonnes of metallurgical coal a year, doubling to 12 million tonnes a year in the second stage.

Once at full tilt, Olive Downs should produce up to 15 million tonnes of hard coking coal a year, with quality just below that of premium hard coals. Demand for the latter is expected to concentrate in the coming year as steelmakers move to reduce pollution and cut carbon emissions.

Output will be transported by rail to Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal for export to Asian markets, particularly Japan, China, India and South Korea.

Olive Downs, which holds 838 million tonnes of coal resources and 514 million tonnes of coal reserves, is expected to generate some A$5.5-billion in royalties over its mine life.