The Major Infrastructure General Layout of the proposed Colton coal mine.
The Major Infrastructure General Layout of the proposed Colton coal mine. Contributed

COLTON MINE: No major moves until govt. approval

THE Colton coal mine could provide hundreds of jobs for the region, but there won't be any major developments until Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Steven Miles confirms the project.

The recommendation was recently approved in the Queensland Land Court, effectively allowing New Hope Group to develop the controversial 5 million tonne coking coal mine to go ahead, subject to new environmental regulations imposed by the government.

But a spokesperson from New Hope Group said there were only routine talks with stakeholders at this point, with the Board yet to reach a decision on the process.

The spokesperson confirmed that other development projects, including mines in the Darling Downs, North Surat and Hunter Valley still remained a priority within the company.

"We're engaging with stakeholders to let them know that we are waiting on the Minister's decision, and there will be limited activity at this point," the spokesperson said.

New Hope Group previously told the Chronicle they awaited the Minister's comment, following the recommendation from the court.

"The courts recommendation to the Minster is just one step in the approvals process - we now await both the Minister's decision on those recommendations," a spokesperson said following the approval.

While the original mining lease and environmental authority application was lodged in 2010 by Northern Energy Corporation, New Hope Group acquired the company a year later and took over operations with Colton thereafter.

In the Land Court's judgement, the court stated new conditions for noise restrictions were to be imposed on the mine.

The mining lease applications for the proposed site cover a total area of 1,025.1 hectares, with the project having a life expectancy of at least eight years.

The development encountered problems in 2012 when the mine was temporarily suspended, as New Hope awaited a mining lease from the government.

In the original mining lease, the project was slated to involve open cut mining using truck and excavator methods.

A coal handling and preparation plant, along with associated mine infrastructure that includes workshops, train loadings and rail balloon loop and waste storage areas, are also slated for inclusion in the project.