A large metallurgical coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin will receive a $175 million loan from a federal agency to begin the first stages of its development.
- The Olive Downs mine project has received a $175m loan from the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility
- The mine is expected to contribute about $10b to Australia’s economy over its lifetime
- Resources Minister Keith Pitt says the project has cross-government support
Pembroke Resource’s Olive Downs mine will be located 40 kilometres south-west of Moranbah, in the Isaac Regional Council area.
The loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is for the mine’s first stage of development, which includes rail and transmission lines, water pipelines, access roads and a coal handling preparation plant.
Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt told the ABC the project would contribute about $10 billion to the Australian economy over its lifetime.
“There’ll be 700 jobs in construction and some 500 [jobs] when the facility is operational,” he said.
No ‘political nonsense’
Mr Pitt said the mine had cross-government support, so he did not expect the state government to veto it like it did a similar loan to Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine in the lead up to the 2017 state election.
“Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made this part of her election campaign last year, so I’m confident that Queensland will remain supportive of it once again,” he said.
“I mean, these are the reasons that I put changes to the legislation through the parliament … [so] the Commonwealth does have an avenue to provide direct loans to proponents without the state, so we can get away from that political nonsense.”
Mr Pitt said he was confident the mine would have strong export potential, even if trade tensions with China continued.
“There’s a lot of steel making facilities around the world, including in places like South Korea and Japan and others,” he said.
Once it is operational, the mine, which had its lease signed off by the state government in September last year, will become Queensland’s third largest coal mine.
The mine has not been without controversy, with an ABC investigation in March revealing the mine gained approvals despite the environmental regulator raising serious concerns behind the scenes about lasting impacts on surrounding waterways.
80-year life expectancy
Pembroke Resources chair Barry Tudor said the mine had a reserve of 514m tonnes of “high-quality steel making coal” and had a life expectancy of 80 years.
“The Olive Downs workforce will be sourced from the region as a priority and not be 100 per cent fly-in fly-out,” Mr Tudor said.
“We also look forward to partnering with many of the local and regional businesses and suppliers to the mining industry in our procurement activities.”
Economic development group Greater Whitsunday Alliance chief executive Kylie Porter said the NAIF decision was significant for the region.
“You know, whilst we tend to hear a lot of negative rhetoric around coal mining, the reality is metallurgical coal is really critical and still has a very long-term future globally,” she said.
“So this is a really big nod of confidence around the fact that our Bowen Basin, which is predominantly metallurgical coal, has a strong future for many years to come.”