Yancoal Australia has received approval from the Queensland Government for its planned expansion of the Cameby Downs thermal coal mine, located in the Surat Basin, around 360km north-west of Brisbane.

Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham approved mining leases for the expansion project, which will increase production and expand mine life at the open cut site.

The mine has been producing thermal coal for export since mid-2010. The latest approval will allow for an increase in output at the mine from 2.8 million tonnes a year to 3.5 million.

It will also extend the productive life of the mining complex, featuring an open cut thermal coal mine, coal handling and preparation plant, as well as associated infrastructure, to 75 years from 45.

Lynham referred to the extension as a vote of confidence in the state’s resources by Yancoal.

“For Western Downs communities like Miles and Chinchilla, it means greater opportunities for the current and future generations of locals to benefit from a strong resources sector in their region,” Lynham said.

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Production ramp-up is anticipated to begin immediately, with peak production expected to be achieved within one year.

“Coal currently delivers $43.4bn or 13% of the state’s gross regional product.”

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) stated the extension of the mine life confirms the long-term role for coal in the Surat Basin, with the resources sector accounting for about 10% of the Western Downs Regional Council area’s gross product.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said: “Whether it is the Government-owned Kogan Creek mine, Cameby Downs, other existing mines in the Surat and Bowen basins or those proposed in the Galilee Basin, Queensland depends upon them. Coal currently delivers $43.4bn or 13% of the state’s gross regional product and more than 215,000 or 9% of full-time equivalent jobs in Queensland.”

The Cameby Downs mine produces a low ash export thermal coal and is linked by rail to the port of Brisbane with port allocation through the Queensland Bulk Handling facility in Brisbane.

Yancoal operates or manages nine coal mines across New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, employing nearly 3,000 people and contractors, as well as other service providers.