Coal is being mined from a test pit in the Galilee Basin, Queensland, Australia, for the first time.
Hancock Prospecting has opened its 100,000 t Alpha test pit, west of Rockhampton. The pit is expected to confirm the quality of the coal from the company’s AU$ 7 billion Alpha coal project.
To mark the occasion, Martin Ferguson, the federal minister for resources and energy, and Gina Rinehart, Hancock Prospecting chairman, unveiled an official plaque.
Rinehart said: “We are here today to mark the first coal mined in the Galilee Basin, to begin the journey that will ‘open up’ the Galilee Basin to spring board it becoming one of the major thermal coal production centres in the world with low sulphur, low ash and low gas coal. Such coal will be beneficial in international markets given that it is an environmentally favourable substitute to other lower quality coals from nearby Indonesia and elsewhere including ‘domestic’ overseas coals.”
She continued: “The Galilee Basin is significant for Queensland and for Australia. It is very significant for people in Asian and Indian countries who will have a new source of energy for their growing needs into the future.”
As well as announcing that the company has received letters of intent for the majority of its planned production during ramp up, Rinehart also confirmed that the company needs to build a 495 km rail line and new port facilities at Abbot Point.
It is reported that the Galilee Basin may rival the Hunter Valley in the future in terms of coal production. Hancock Prospecting is hoping to begin full operation of the mine in 2014, pending Government approval, permits and finance.
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