gallille Basin

Waratah Coal, a privately-owned Australian coal exploration and development firm, has received approval from Queensland state for its $6.4bn coal and rail project in the Galilee Basin.

The company’s ‘China First’ project will comprise of the construction of a coal mine and related infrastructure near Alpha in the state’s central west region.

The coal project would be linked to the Abbot Point terminal near Bowen through approximately 460km of railway lines.

Queensland’s coordinator-general approved the project after studying Waratah Coal’s EIS, but the approval is also subject to strict conditions.

The mega project will now have to receive approval from the federal government before it can push ahead with the development of the mine.

The China First project would include four underground mines, two surface mines and related coal processing facilities.

"Queensland’s coordinator-general approved the project after studying Waratah Coal’s EIS, but approval is subject to strict conditions."

While environmentalists fear the development of the mine would erode thousands of hectares of bushland, the coordinator-general stated that the company would have to prepare weed, species and water management plans and address other environmental concerns.

The project includes mining a portion of the 8,000ha Bimblebox Nature Refuge, which is home to the endangered finch and more than 200 species of plants.

Greenpeace spokeswoman Louise Matthiesson was quoted by Australian Associated Press as saying that these were standard conditions required for mining projects.

"We’re horrified that the Queensland Government could approve this massive, very destructive project," Matthiesson added.

The state government believes the development of the mine would lead to creation of more than 3,000 construction jobs and 2,000 operational jobs.

The mine is expected to produce 40 million tonnes of thermal coal per annum and will have a life of about 30 years.

Image: Waratah Coal’s $6.4bn coal and rail project will be located in the Galilee basin of Queensland, Australia. Photo courtesy of Waratah Coal.

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