State Gov't approves M'boro's $300m coalmine lease

MARYBOROUGH'S $300million Colton Coal mine is one step closer after three critical mining leases were given the tick of approval by the State Government.

This means the New Hope Group can now begin planning the first stages of the open cut mine which will create up to 120 new-long term jobs at the site 10kms north-east of Maryborough.

Queensland Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said New Hope had to meet strict environmental, financial and technical capability and public interest requirements, and address native title issues with traditional owners, to be granted its leases.

"New Hope has the major approvals it requires to move ahead with this project and create up to 120 direct full-time construction jobs and up to 120 ongoing production jobs for the Fraser Coast region," Dr Lynham said.

"Importantly, that workforce will be sourced locally and the project will provide business opportunities and inject revenue into the local economy from locally-purchased goods and services.

"The project has been through a rigorous assessment process, including public objections and Land Court hearings.

"The mine has strict conditions governing water releases to protect the Mary River catchment, and to limit noise and dust."

The mine is expected to produce half a million tonnes of high grade coking coal per year, to be transported 270km by rail to Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal at Gladstone.

New Hope's next step will be to provide a plan of operations and financial assurance to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection before work can begin.

The Maryborough project is expected to include a coal handling and preparation plant, workshops, offices, a haul road and have a production life of eight to 10 year.

The announcement comes as New Hope awaits a Queensland Land court decision about the proposed expansion over its existing coal mine near Toowoomba.

There, the company has faced fierce opposition from a group of farmers and environmentalists despite its progressive stance on land rehabilitation.

Along with the Darling Downs site, New Hope also operates an open cut thermal coal mine at Jeebropilly near Ipswich as well as a joint venture in the NSW Hunter Valley.