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Glencore’s Valeria coal mine granted special status

Valeria coal project area. (Image courtesy of Glencore Australia.)

Australia’s state of Queensland has granted Glencore’s (LON:GLEN) A$1.5 billion ($1bn) Valeria coal mine the status of “coordinated project”, which will see it fast-tracked as the nation looks for alternatives to kick start the recession-ridden economy.

The decision will bring environmental and other assessments for the mine, expected to produce 20 million tonnes of coal annually for 35 years, under the office of the state’s coordinator general.

Valeria’s expected output equals about 4% of Australia’s total coal production. That is double the size of Adani’s Carmichael project, also in Queensland, which was approved by the state government in June 2019 after a near decade-long struggle with regulators and environmental protesters.

Glencore’s proposed Valeria mine will produce around 20 million tonnes a year of thermal and metallurgical coal, equal to about 4% of Australia’s output 

Queensland’s Treasurer, Cameron Dick, said the project is expected to support over 1,400 construction jobs and 950 full-time positions once fully operational.

The project’s special status, he noted, would help implement new positions faster. 

“This new mine has the potential to create hundreds of new jobs as Queensland recovers from the extraordinary shock of the global coronavirus pandemic,” Dick said. “Coal mining has a long history in Queensland and will continue to be a major industry for many years to come.”

Glencore said the move was an “important and positive step” for its planned Valeria mine, which would extract a mix of metallurgical coal, used to produce steel, and thermal coal, needed for power generation. The amounts of each type of coal were not specified.

Based on the company’s “initial advice statement” sent to the government in April, Valeria would cover 28,000 hectares, with a “disturbance area” of 10,000 hectares.

It will replace production from other Glencore coal operations as they near retirement, including the nearby Clermont mine.

Glencore grabbed a 71.2% stake in the asset in 2018. As part of the transaction, it also acquired Rio Tinto’s 82% interest in the Hail Creek coal mine.

The coal sector brings in around A$70 billion in annual export revenue to Queensland.