THE $1.6 billion Nathan Dam slated for south-west Queensland will now be forced to do its sums after a decision from the Australian competition watchdog.
On Wednesday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission agreed that six mining companies could work as one in negotiations with SunWater.
SunWater owns, builds and manages Queensland's bulk water supply, including dams, pipelines, pump stations and water treatment plants.
Each of the mining firms - Cockatoo Coal, Cuesta Coal, MetroCoal, Peabody Energy Australia, QC Resource Investments and Whitehaven Coal - need to prove their future mines would have access to water, something this new dam would provide.
The idea of the Nathan Dam has bounced around communities for close to a century, with even the former Queensland Coalition government suggesting it in the late 1990s.
Since 2007, it has been slowly plodding through environmental approvals even as delays had some in the region doubting its future.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney was slightly more optimistic when asked if he thought Nathan Dam would eventually be built.
"I would hope so," he told APN on Wednesday.
"It has been talked about for a long time.
"There has been a lot of false starts.
"And this is the latest in a long line of attempts to get the project going."
If all goes to plan, design would be finished next year, construction would begin the year after and up to 390 workers would be put to work.
It has a tentative completion date of 2016.
Before that happens, it must be given approval from the State Government's Coordinator General, something SunWater wants before the end of this year.
Mr Seeney declined to comment on its prospects.
"It has to pass through approval process that needs to be strict and thorough," Mr Seeney said.
"It's difficult to pre-empt that approval process. It must be allowed to run its course."
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