Anglo-Australian mining company Glencore has secured leases for the proposed A$7bn ($5.54bn) Wandoan coal project, located near Roma in the Surat Basin in south-western Queensland.
Queensland Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham approved three 27-year leases for the first stage of the project, which cover a combined area of more than 30,000ha.
The project is being undertaken as a joint venture between Glencore Coal Queensland (75%), ICRA Wandoan (12.5%) and Sumisho Coal Australia (12.5%).
Glencore submitted application for the leases located west of the township of Wandoan in 2007. However, the company announced in 2013 that it was no longer planning to take up the project.
The open-cut thermal coal mine would have achieved an output of about 22 million tonnes per year.
Glencore noted that the decision to start operations at the project would be dependent on the global coal market and the company's overall portfolio.
Furthermore, the company stated that it will take into account market supply and global coal prices before embarking on production from the project.
The project received environmental approval from the Commonwealth Government in 2011.
Community action group Lock the Gate Alliance responded to the mining leases granted for the development by alleging that the decision will hamper agricultural operations in the state.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Carmel Flint said: “The approval of this mine by Minister Anthony Lynham marks a very dark day for farming in Queensland.”
“The mine will extract 22 million tonnes of coal each year for 35 years and destroy up to 32,000ha of farmland on the Western Downs.
“A large number of farmers have already been displaced by Glencore over this vast area, and now we fear that remaining farmers on and near the lease will be forced out.”
The project will require a rail link to the Port of Gladstone in order to export the coal produced from the mine.