Four new coal projects slated for the Galilee Basin in central Queensland will be the catalyst for infrastructure in the region, if interest shown by mining magnates Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart is anything to go by.
“The Galilee Basin is gaining significant focus for Queensland in terms of the region’s abundant coal resource, which holds substantial employment, economic development and growth opportunities for the regional and state economy,” said Tim Mulherin, Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland.
The nearest town to the Galilee Basin is Alpha, about 450 kilometres west of Rockhampton, boasting a population of just 350.
Rinehart’s Alpha Coal Project alone will look to employ more than 3,700 people to construct the mine and rail infrastructure and more than 2,500 in permanent mine operation positions, although the town does not yet have the facilities to support the manpower required.
Rinehart’s company Hancock Coal announced the $7.5 billion Alpha Coal Project last year and has already opened a test pit to extract coal. It has also engaged mining contractors WorleyParsons and Ausenco to conduct feasibility studies.
The Queensland Government, in a report released late last year, indicates that the four new coal projects in the state will add billions of dollars to the region’s economy over the life of the mines.
According to the Galilee Basin Economic & Social Impact Study commissioned by the government and conducted by Economic Associates, the mines are set to yield 3 billion tons of coal, with the first extraction due in 2013 and the first exports starting in 2014. A heavy gauge railway is in the works to convey the coal to the planned port at Abbot Point.
“Each project would be larger than any coal mine presently being operated in the Bowen Basin by a considerable margin,” the report stated.
Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Rob Chandler has indicated that a $12 million upgrade of the Alpha airport is on the cards to ease the movement of the 6,000 people expected to settle in the area due to the mining projects.