INCOMING PROJECT: The Winchester South Project is set to be fast tracked by the Queensland Government.
INCOMING PROJECT: The Winchester South Project is set to be fast tracked by the Queensland Government. Whitehaven

New Bowen Basin coal project creating 950 jobs, fast tracked

DESPERATE to create more jobs and cash in the rising price for coking coal, the Queensland Government revealed their plan today to expedite a $1 billion coal project in the Bowen Basin.

Located approximately 30 kilometres south-east of Moranbah, the undeveloped Winchester South Project was purchased from Rio Tinto and the Spectre Group for about $250 million by Whitehaven in May 2018.

According to Whitehaven, the coking coal project would be developed as an above-ground coal mine producing between seven and 15 million tonnes of steel-making coal annually, for the next 20 or 30 years.

The project would also involve the construction a coal processing plant and a rail loop to connect with the existing Bowen Basin coal rail network.

It was anticipated that 500 jobs would be generated during the two year construction period, with 450 full-time jobs to be sustained once the mine is in operation.

The declaration of a coordinated project by Queensland's independent Coordinator-General, will help facilitate complex approvals as the project undergoes rigorous environmental, social and economic impact assessments.

Whitehaven Coal managing director Paul Flynn said the Bowen Basin was one of the premier metallurgical coal basins in the world and Winchester South will form a key part in Whitehaven's growth plan to meet the growing demand in Asia's premium export markets.

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said the Queensland Government would continue backing big regional projects like this to ensure more locals in our communities have secure, well-paid jobs. ,” Ms Lauga said.

"This project looks to be a real win for Central Queensland, from both an employment and economic standpoint,” Mrs Lauga said.

Federal Labor candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson welcomed the state government's announcement, saying a strong mining sector was core to a stronger Central Queensland.

"As someone who has worked at the Goonyella mine for 17 years, I know how important it is to keep securing these big resources projects for our region,” Mr Robertson said.

"This work will put food on the table for local families, it will attract more investment across a range of industries, and it will strengthen our economy for decades.”

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke said that since January 2015 almost 185,000 jobs have been created in Queensland.

"This includes 6600 new jobs in the Fitzroy region in the past 12 months alone,” Mr O'Rourke said.

"Jobs have always been and will remain the number one focus of our government, and projects like this will help us to create, and keep, more jobs in Central Queensland.”

Draft terms of reference will now be prepared by the Coordinator-General, who will then invite public comment on matters addressed in the environmental impact statement.

If approved, the project was estimated to commence construction in 2021, with the first coal extraction proposed for 2023.

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