THE most significant new coal mine development in the Central Highlands post council amalgamation in 2008 has moved one step closer to project commissioning, with the release of its Environmental Impact Statement on Monday.
More than 350 new permanent jobs will be created with the Aquila Resources Washpool coal project, which aims to export 2.6 million tonnes of hard coking coal through Gladstone’s Wiggins Island terminal.
The mine will necessitate the construction of a one in 2000-year 6km floodproof levee bank along part of Burngrove Creek and the length of the Mackenzie River anabranch containing Coal Mine Lagoon.
Aquila Resources is currently investigating its workforce housing options, with a range of alternatives being considered including a 243-person accommodation camp in Blackwater or onsite at the mine, or through the purchase of local housing.
“The company will continue to engage with the Urban Land Development Authority and the Central Highlands Regional Council to explore the most appropriate options in this regard,” the EIS stated.
“The results of this assessment will be communicated to affected communities once the study has been completed.
“However, for the purposes of the EIS it has been assumed the majority of construction and operations employees will be accommodated in a purpose-built village, while others may seek existing housing options in the nearby townships of Blackwater, Emerald or Comet.
“This may be particularly relevant during construction when the workers’ village is still under construction.
“If required, a temporary accommodation village will be constructed within the mining lease.”
With a one-year construction phase to begin in 2012 before the first coal is extracted, the company will offer even-time rosters to a fully contracted workforce.
The mine, 24km northwest of Blackwater and 16km north of the Capricorn Highway, has an expected life of 16-20 years.
It is positioned between Curragh to the east and Ensham to the west.
“Bus transportation will be provided for workers to and from the project site each day to minimise the use of private vehicles on the Capricorn Hwy and mine access road, and to minimise the risk of road safety incidents,” the EIS said.
“Due to low local unemployment levels and the lack of required skill sets, it is likely the majority of employees will be sourced from outside of the local area, from areas such as Rockhampton and other centres.”
The Washpool Coal Project would provide a number of socio-economic benefits to the region, not only through jobs, but the potential for increased supply chain opportunities, the EIS added.
The mine is expected to contribute $41 million a year in royalties to the State Government.
The community has until Monday, June 7, to make submissions about the mining project.
The EIS can be viewed at the Blackwater Library, Wey St, or DERM offices at 99 Hospital Rd, Emerald.
It will be made available online later this week at www.aquilaresources.com.au.
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