Asian demand drives new coal venture

Asian demand drives new coal venture

VICTORIAN mine company boss Craig Astill says that everything lines up in Northern Tasmania for an exciting new export coal industry in 2012.

He said that the quality black coal from the Duncan seam in the Fingal Valley that his company planed to mine was in demand in Asia.

Mr Astill's Hardrock Coal Mining plans to have its development application for a thermal coal project near Fingal to the Break O'Day Council by Christmas.

Community support in the job-starved North-East Tasmania was strong and workers were available from the area out of the mining and forestry industries.

The road, rail and port facilities were in place with the proposed operation expected to help the Bell Bay port, which lost international services.

Mr Astill said the financial timing was also right for the $40 million project, which expected to export up to one million tonnes of thermal coal a year, earning a minimum of $100 million in its first year.

``This could not have happened before the global financial crisis,'' he said.

Mr Astill said that Hardrock Coal, a new company set up for the project, was working co-operatively with the adjacent Cornwall Coal operation.

``We are not in competition with them because their markets are domestic,'' he said.

Tasmanian company CBM Sustainability group is Hardrock's local representative.

CBM chief executive John Dingemanse said that the companies had been working for more than 12 months to develop the project.

CBM is undertaking the design and project management as well as providing strategic support for Hardrock.

Mr Astill, who has a background in mining and primary production, said that he had been looking for a site for such a development for years and had been advised of the potential of the disused Fingal Valley mine by US business contacts .

He said that the project would be fully funded by Hardrock Coal Mining and its financiers, who were already secured.

The company has exploration permits and has conducted core drilling and a sonar fly-over scan.

It wants to reopen the abandoned Valley 2 mine and start underground operations.

CBM will also lodge a mining lease permit application on the company's behalf before Christmas.

``Consultation and meetings with government, local government and key community stakeholders are well advanced,'' Mr Dingemanse said.

Heads of agreement are in place with Tasrail and Tasports to take the coal to Bell Bay by rail in loads every 78 hours.

FACT FILE

CONSTRUCTION PHASE: 78 full-time equivalent jobs for the North; 116 FTE statewide.

OPERATIONAL PHASE: 207 jobs in first year increasing to 650 jobs in third year in the North. 239 jobs statewide in first year leading to 753 jobs in third year.

Proposes mining one million tonnes a year initially, with plans to increase production.