Glencore has been granted the first mining leases for its $7 billion Wandoan coal project in the Surat Basin.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham today approved the grant of three 27-year leases over 30,000 ha for Stage 1 of the project, west of Wandoan.
When operational, a new mine could produce up to 22 million tonnes of high-quality thermal coal annually.
This would be the first major coal project of this scale in the Surat Basin, and still requires a rail link to the Port of Gladstone for export.
The Wandoan coal project is a joint venture between Glencore (75 per cent owners) along with ICRA Wandoan and Sumisho Coal Australia.
Four years ago Glencore announced that the project had been put on hold.
The company has welcomed the mining lease approvals, but says it will continue to assess the project’s timing against the global coal market and its overall portfolio.
“Glencore is taking a responsible approach and will only bring on new large-scale production volumes if we are confident that market conditions support such a development,” the company said.
“Adding significant new tonnes to the market at this time could adversely impact the profitability of existing thermal coal production, potentially putting jobs at risk as the market adjusts downwards as a result of oversupply.
“The Wandoan Coal Project will require a multi-billion dollar capital investment for both the mine and related rail infrastructure. We maintain an open and regular engagement with the Wandoan community and provide updates of any developments or changes directly.”
Adani Australia welcomes Wandoan approvals
Adani Australia – which is developing the $16.5 billion Carmichael thermal coal project – said the State Government’s decision to grant the Wandoan leases again recognised the ongoing positive future of coal in the global energy mix.
“Adani has resisted the activist misinformation during the past few years. But clearly others like the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Glencore – the world’s
largest trader of seaborne thermal coal – see the ongoing positive future of coal in the global energy mix,”Adani Australia chief executive officer and country head Jeyakumar Janakaraj said.
Mr Janakaraj said the Carmichael and Wandoan projects would not be competitors.
“Carmichael coal is destined for our super-critical power plants in India. Wandoan coal will be sold on world markets as part of Glencore’s offering,” he said.
“In fact, we are business partners with Glencore and other miners which use our Abbot Point bulk coal port to export northern Bowen Basin production.”
Mr Janakaraj noted that the Surat development would require further rail and port infrastructure.
“Just as we are developing Queensland’s first standard gauge open access, common-user railway to open the Galilee Basin with sufficient capacity for follow-on projects,” he said.