Only way is up for mining
WITH the mining industry in the doldrums, the only way is up.
That horizon of hope for battling Central Highlands businesses and out of work miners was talked up at the Central Highlands Development Corporation's Investing in our Future conference by leading industry players.
GVK Hancock's corporate manager Josh Euler and Department of Natural Resources and Mines central region director Peter Donaghy were buoyant about the region's future.
"Right now the (coal) prices aren't terrific for getting projects up, but the medium-term view is very, very strong," Mr Donaghy said.
Mr Euler said the bright future of the mining industry stemmed from the expected increase in demand for coal.
Mr Donaghy said a stand-out local mining project at the moment was Carabella Resources' Bluff Coal project.
"Bluff is getting very close to getting up and running," he said.
"It's not a huge project.
"That probably explains why it has got through the assessment process so rapidly.
"I think this will get to grant in under 18 months from the point of lodgement which is very quick for a coal project and I congratulate Carabella on that. It has been a heck of an effort."
Mr Euler said extensive court action from green groups made it impossible to put a date on when GVK's Alpha project would go ahead.
"This is a point that I really want to make quite loud and clear," he said.
"This document called Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom, it was leaked out by a green group and their focus is on 'disrupting and delaying'.
"We said in 2011 that we could start the project in 2012, then 2013... .
"The kind of disrupt and delay tactics are coming through the courts.
"We can't say, 'this is the date construction will commence'."
Mr Donaghy also highlighted the Meteor Downs South project and Bandanna Energy's Springsure Creek project.
"Bandanna Energy, again a project that would be near and dear to the people around Emerald," he said.
"I have to commend management and how they've been engaging with the community, there are still some outstanding issues but if that project gets up it will employ a lot of people on the edge of Emerald."