$6.4 billion Rinehart mine approved

GINA Rinehart's Hancock Coal has been given the go-ahead for a $6.4 billion project needing more than 4000 workers in the Galilee Basin, west of Rockhampton.

The only hurdle left is winning approval from Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke.

Queensland's Co-ordinator-General has provided conditional approval for the mine - the first in the untapped coal rich region.

Minister for State Development Jeff Seeney said the project would produce economic benefits for Queensland and Australia.

"There will be an estimated $11 billion boost to the economy during the mine's three -ear construction phase and 80% of that will be retained in Queensland," Mr Seeney said.

"Once operational, Queensland's economy should see an economic boost of $1billion per year from this mine alone."

Australia can expect an $80 billion rise in exports over the life of the mine." Mr Seeney said the Coordinator-General had approved the mine with strict conditions.

He said the move was a major step towards opening up the Galilee Basin's coal deposits.

"The proposal is for a 30 million tonnes per year open-cut coal mine and a 495km railway line from the mine to the Port of Abbot Point near Bowen," he said.

The project is expected to generate up to 3600 construction jobs and 990 operational jobs. The mine site - near the township of Alpha - is 130km south-west of Clermont and about 360km south-west of Mackay. It would run for at least 30 years although it could be extended beyond that.

Coordinator-General Barry Broe said his 393-page report contains 128 conditions.

"Conditions and recommendations in my report will ensure that impacts are well mitigated and managed through environmental management plans, environmental licences, development permits and a social impact management plan," Mr Broe said.

The mine plan comprises six separate open-cut pits, with a total strike length of 24km in a north-south direction.

Hancock Coal anticipates the construction period to occur between 2013 and 2016, subject to relevant approvals being granted for the project.



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