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Sojitz Coal Mining and Futura Resources have signed an agreement to proceed with the new Wilton coking coal mine.

Production is expected to begin as early as July at the open-cut mine, with an operating life of 50 years.

It comes as Sojitz hits its stride at the recently restarted Gregory open-cut operation and the company is also looking to develop an underground mine at the Central Queensland site by the end of the year.

The Wilton project and underground development together will create about 300 additional mining jobs in the Emerald region.

“We expect to be mining Gregory open-cut, Crinum underground and the Wilton mine by this time next year,” Sojitz Coal Mining managing director and chief executive officer Cameron Vorias said.

Sojitz Coal Mining gained control of the mothballed Gregory Crinum coking coal site last year after acquiring it from BMA for $100 million.

Mr Vorias said the open-cut operation was now in full production after a wet weather-related rough patch from January to early March.

Sojitz signed an agreement on Tuesday with asset owner Futura Resources to proceed with Wilton – a very shallow, open-cut project expected to cost less than $30 million to bring online.

Mr Vorias said they were awaiting approval of the mining lease application and hoped to begin mining in July.

Sojitz will carry out mining, processing and marketing for the coking coal project, with an expected workforce requirement of 150 people.

“It will start around 0.5-1Mtpa product and then we’ll be looking at around 1.5 million tonnes in the 2021 year,” Mr Vorias said.
Mr Vorias said Sojitz was also looking at bringing the former Crinum South underground mine back online within the next 12 months.

“We will be looking over the next six months at regaining entry into the underground and assessing conditions before we make the final decision to commence operations,” he said.

It offers an initial resource of about 14 million tonnes to be mined via a bord and pillar operation, before transitioning to M Block – with an 80 million-tonne resource.

This would initially be mined as an open-cut operation before shifting underground.

“It would be an ongoing underground operation for the next 20 years,” Mr Vorias said.

Sojitz expects the Crinum underground to be a contractor operation employing about 150 people.

Sojitz to roll out two more mines, 300 jobs