Rio Tinto has told the Australian Government that it will close its Kestrel coal mine in Queensland should its extension request be denied.
The company sought permission from the government to extend the mine near the town of Emerald, further south onto a lease that is yet to be approved for mining purpose.
In recent years, coal mining companies in Australia could not extend their existing mines due to various oppositions.
Rio Tinto also experienced such opposition and could not expand the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine in New South Wales, the company said.
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Rio Tinto saying in its submission: "Not taking the proposed action would result in the closure of the Kestrel mine, the loss of significant capital invested in the mine, employment and royalties."
Rio Tinto has voluntarily lodged an approval application with the government following changes that were made on the ‘water trigger’ within the Environment Protection Act.
The underground Kestrel mine supplies around six million tonnes of coal a year to markets worldwide. In 2013, it produced 2.553 million tonnes of coking coal and 463,000t of thermal coal.
The extension of the mine was announced in 2007 and construction started in 2008.
Rio Tinto Coal Australia manages the operation on behalf of the joint venture partners, Queensland Coal Pty (80%) and Mitsui Kestrel Coal Investment (20%).
Kestrel Mine uses the longwall and continuous miner method to mine coking and thermal coal for export.
Image: The Kestrel mine supplies around six million tonnes of coal per annum to a global client base. Photo: Copyright © 2014 Rio Tinto.