Eromanga the next coal seam boom

IT HAS a strange name, but Eromanga could be worth billions of dollars and deliver thousands of jobs within the decade.

With the hype around the emerging Galilee Basin near Alpha and the Surat Basin in south-west Queensland, the Eromanga Basin has remained off the radar.

But a slew of listed companies releasing their drilling results in the past month hint at a gigantic and sprawling thermal coal seam surrounding the township of Blackall, about 150km south-west of Alpha.

Three boutique exploration firms are rushing to confirm coal in its billions of tonnes lies beneath the surface, so they can woo resource heavyweights to help them dig it up.

Perth-based East Energy managing director Mark Basso said within five years, Eromanga would be as well known as Galilee was today.

Mr Basso said East's two billion tonnes of coal exploration target was realistic for its Blackall project but more research was needed.

Early indications pointed to a 100km-long stretch of coal seam in a straight line that was kilometres wide.

"It's a massive area of coal," he said.

"People ask me about moving coal 700km from Eromanga to Abbot Point while China is moving coal 4000km from the north to the south."

Mr Basso said East Energy, Coalbank and International Coal exploring in the area, were laying the groundwork in hope of finding a local or overseas powerhouse to back them.

"These larger companies do not want to go through the 10 years of work - they want the de-risking already done," he said.

International already has a separate joint venture with Gina Rinehart's Queensland Coal Investments to explore near Bundaberg.

BHP Billiton this week revealed coal production fell by 1.3 million tonnes compared to the previous year.

When three unions upped the ante against the BHP Billion Mitsubishi Alliance from the start of the year, persistent and unpredictable industrial action was designed to have maximum impact. And it did.

It was estimated BMA lost $2 billion. The company lifted force majeure on all its Bowen Basin mine sites.

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