Gina Rinehart wants to get her Bundy on

AN UNDERGROUND coal project near Bundaberg could be under construction within three years if a coal company backed by billionaire Gina Rinehart can keep up with its own predictions.

International Coal is developing the Bundaberg Mine north-west of the regional town, telling the Australian Stock Exchange earlier this month its coal quality was as good as that in the world-renowned Bowen Basin of Central Queensland.

Ms Rinehart's Queensland Coal Investments has taken a 25% stake in the Bundaberg development.

Chief executive officer Glenn Simpson said International wanted to have the mine exporting from 2020, so it could capitalise on Australia's low dollar and available labour.

International's choice of port is unclear with Mr Simpson saying it was investigating Bundaberg's terminals or those emerging at Wiggins Island near Gladstone.

The value and scale of the mine will not be clear until International does more drilling and analysis, something Mr Simpson vowed to have done within 12 months.

This will also govern how long the operation lives - it will only go ahead if International can be sure of at least 10 years of production.

If the coal seam allows, 20 years would be more likely.

International must then develop a "pre-feasibility" plan before it begins a long and costly government approvals process.

Mr Simpson said as plans for the Bundaberg mine continued, he was determined to maintain a good relationship with the community.

"We are excited about where the project is heading at the moment," he said.

"It's very important in this area, and in every area, to maintain good relationships with the council, local members, landowners and stakeholders in the area.

In January, at least 60 landholders near the mining area held a meeting to protest gas and coal exploration in the region.



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