A JUNIOR mining firm is set to spend $500 million to build a new Central Queensland coal mine west of Moranbah that could create up to 400 jobs once construction starts in less than 18 months.
The major open-cut Grosvenor West development from junior player Carabella Resources is expected to mine for about 18 years, although the final decision to invest will not be made until late next year.
By 2016, Carabella hopes Grosvenor West will be capable of annually exporting up to 3.8 million tonnes of coal for both steel making and electricity production.
The mine was first expected to cost more than $1 billion to build, although revised costs brought the figure down to $900 million.
By using a so-far unnamed contractor to run the mine, Carabella plans to save a further $400 million.
It is yet to work out its power, water, rail and port services, although Carabella wants access to part of the planned expansion at Abbot Point coal terminal near Bowen. The company will now grapple with building its environmental impact study after the Queensland Government released the formal terms of reference this week. To cut costs, Carabella will use a contract miner to wield a "bucket wheel excavator" system - similar to one used at Goonyella-Riverside.
The excavator features a huge steel wheel at the front, with a continuous line of buckets which scoop material as the wheel turns.
At Grosvenor West, two of the bucket wheel excavators will be used to a depth of 70m before other excavators and trucks are called in for the deeper mining.
Its full environmental credentials are due by October 2014, although the company is keen to have approvals finalised and construction under way by then. Carabella managing director Anthony Quin did not respond to questions yesterday but previously said he was confident the fall in costs ensured the project's future until a decision on whether to go ahead was made.
"The value of the project has been substantially enhanced through the proposed open-cut mining method using bucket wheel excavation, with a large reduction in both operating and capital costs," he said.
"The company will now progress the approvals process and lodge a mining lease application."
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