Australia fast-tracks Glencore’s Valeria coal project

Australia’s state of Queensland has granted Glencore’s (LSE: GLEN) A$1.5-billion (US$1 billion) Valeria coal mine the status of “coordinated project” in order to fast-track it, as the nation seeks alternatives to kickstart the recession-ridden economy.

The decision will bring environmental and other assessments for the mine, expected to produce 20 million tonnes of coal annually for 35 years, under the office of the state’s coordinator general.

Valeria’s expected output amounts to 4% of Australia’s total coal production. That’s double the size of Adani’s Carmichael project, also in Queensland, which was approved by the state government in June 2019, after a near decade-long struggle with regulators and environmental protesters.

Queensland’s Treasurer, Cameron Dick, said Glencore’s project is expected to support over 1,400 construction jobs and 950 full-time positions once it’s fully operational.

The project’s special status, he noted, would help to get new jobs happening quicker.

“This new mine has the potential to create hundreds of new jobs as Queensland recovers from the extraordinary shock of the global coronavirus pandemic,” Dick said. “Coal mining has a long history in Queensland and will continue to be a major industry for many years to come.”

Glencore said the move was an “important and positive step” for its planned Valeria mine, which would extract a mix of metallurgical coal, used to produce steel, and thermal coal, needed for power generation. The amounts of each type of coal were not specified.

Based on the company’s “initial advice statement” sent to the government in April, Valeria would cover 280 sq. km, with a “disturbance area” of 100 square kilometres.

It will replace production from other Glencore coal operations as they near retirement, including the nearby Clermont mine.

Glencore took a 71.2% stake in the asset in 2018. As part of the transaction, it also acquired Rio Tinto’s (NYSE: RIO; LSE: RIO) 82% interest in the Hail Creek coal mine.

The coal sector brings in around A$70 billion (US$48 billion) in annual export revenue to Queensland.

— This article first appeared in  The Northern Miner and are part of the Glacier Resource Innovation Group.


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