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A plan to extend the Ensham coal mine to add an extra nine years to operations is advancing, with the environmental impact statement (EIS) out for public comments.

The $315 million extension project would see the mine continue to produce about 4.5 million tonnes of coal each year and support more than 600 full-time jobs until the end of the project around 2037.

The Ensham mine is an open-cut and underground bord and pillar operation about 35km east of Emerald.

The extension project would progress the underground operation to the west and is not expected require additional surface infrastructure.

“Extending the mine life will continue the flow-on benefits Ensham mine has provided for the local community since 1993, by supporting local jobs, suppliers and housing markets,” Idemitsu Australia Resources chief executive officer Steve Kovac said.

“Because the proposal would extend our existing operations, we consider it a low-risk project that can be managed within our proven environmental management systems to minimise and mitigate the impacts.

“We will continue to consult with our stakeholders through the approvals process and over the life of the project, to build on our existing relationships and show that we are committed to the well-being of our local community.”

Project documents show the existing open-cut operation at the thermal coal mine is scheduled to continue to about 2024, followed by further rehabilitation, while existing underground operations are due to cease in 2028.

The capital costs associated with the extension project are estimated at $314.9 million and total operational costs are estimated at $2,726.2 million over the life of the project.

Over the extended mine life, an estimated 38 million tonnes of coal would be produced, generating projected export value of $3.66 billion and an estimated $256 million in royalties.

Idemitsu Australia Resources said it had undertaken extensive stakeholder consultation during mine planning and environmental impact assessment to identify and address landowner, community and government concerns, and to ensure environmental impacts were minimised.

Public submissions on the project EIS are open until Tuesday, June 8. The EIS documents can be viewed HERE