Macarthur Coal

Coal mine means jobs

NORTHERN Energy could be mining coal at Aldershot before the end of the year.

The Brisbane corporation will lodge an application with the Department of Mining within “the next few days” and aims to have its beleaguered Colton Mine project up and running inside 12 months.

“The mining lease application is a significant milestone,” said Keith Barker, managing director of Northern Energy Corporation, yesterday.

He said the project would create 100 jobs directly with ancilliary employment opportunities to be created in the service industry.

A “substantial” drilling program was carried out at the site between October and December and Mr Barker is confident that the laboratory data results will show an increase in tonnage and coking coal quality.

“Expectation is one thing. Reality is another but there shouldn’t be any surprises,” he said.

The corporation will also seek clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency before work can begin in earnest.

The Colton Mine project was originally planned to start in late 2009 but the intervention of the global financial crisis put it on hold and in doubt.

“The world hasn’t come to an end, although this time last year some people were suggesting it,” Mr Barker said.

“There was an enormous amount of uncertainty.

“We were uncertain whether new mines would be required.”

Suggestions that production would shut down filtered through the mining industry as shipments to Asian steel mills and power generators fell off.

The credit crunch meant funding for the proposed Maryborough mine was not available.

This position is now set to be reversed.

“We were fortunate that the department found and released historical data that allowed us to research the site further without needing any field work.

“It required interpretation and modelling but it was key advance work.”

Mr Barker confirmed that formal community consultation would follow the lodgement of the application to mine.

High quality coking coal was identified at the Aldershot plant about two-and-a-half years ago.

An open-cut mine producing 200,000 tonnes a year was initially planned with the possibility of this tonnage rising to 500,000.

Mr Barker indicated yesterday that the coal would be brought to Gladstone for shipment to Asia.

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