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The $2 billion Byerwen coking coal mine, 20km west of Glenden, has been celebrated at an official opening.

About 1000 people have worked on construction of the Bowen Basin mine, a joint venture between Japan’s JFE Steel and the QCoal Group.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has welcomed the expansion of the mine, where production is expected to rise from 3 million tonnes per annum to 10 million tonnes per annum.

The site will have a permanent workforce of more than 500 during operations and has a potential life of more than 50 years, according to QCoal Group managing director Christopher Wallin.

“In addition, the Byerwen Coal Mine has a strong track record of Indigenous employment, peaking at 14 per cent during construction and 5 per cent in operations,” he said.

“As a growing Queensland company, we are proud of our contribution to the State through local employment, purchasing locally wherever possible and creating opportunities for regional communities.”

The mining leases for the Byerwen coal project were granted in April 2017, facilitating the first mining operations to begin at the end of last year and the first shipment of metallurgical coal to the Fukuyama steel works in January this year.

QCoal says the current workforce is about 350.

Sedgman is constructing the site’s second coal washplant, which is nearing completion, as part of the ramp-up to a 10Mtpa operation.

Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said today’s official opening symbolised the resilience of Queensland’s coal industry, which delivered more than $3 billion in direct wages, $3.8 billion in royalties and almost 37,000 jobs for the state in 2017-18.

“Coal from the mine will be exported to Japan, Europe, India and a number of South East Asian markets for use in steel production and in some cases, the continued industrialisation and development of those countries,” he said.

“Our coal exports played a big part in Australia recently registering its first current account surplus since 1975. The ABS attributes that to continuing high prices combined with growing volumes of resources exports, including coal.”

State Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said Queensland had a strong future when it came to coal, with continued demand for metallurgical coal driven by the need for steel by customers like India and China and Japan.

“We’ve got new projects with coordinated approval like Olive Downs and Winchester South near Moranbah,” he said.

“And of course, this means not just jobs, but royalties that help fund our teachers and nurses and police officers.” 

The Coordinator-General is progressing approvals on the $1 billion Olive Downs metallurgical coal mine 40km south-east of Moranbah, exepected to support 1000 operational jobs and 500 construction jobs, and the Winchester South coal project near Moranbah, set to support another $1 billion of investment and 950 jobs.

IMAGE: JFE Steel corporation president Yoshihisa Kitano, QCoal managing director Christopher Wallin, Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan and Japanese Consulate General of Queensland Kazunari Tanaka at the Byerwen official opening.

Byerwen’s big day out