JUNIOR miner Endocoal is marching towards the development of two operating mines on the 1020sq km Orion Downs tenement at Meteor Downs near Springsure.
The company started exploration in 2009 with immediate success, and it hopes to be operating at least one mine on the tenement by 2013.
In 2010/11 Endocoal drilled about 13,240m of exploration holes on site.
It has since divided the project into two sub-projects - Inderi underground and Meteor Downs South open-cut, with the latter being the priority.
The Department of Environment and Resource Management determined the Meteor Downs South project would be able to proceed without having to complete an Environmental Impact Statement, but would require an Environmental Management Plan.
"Both are very rigorous processes," Endocoal chief executive Tim Headley said.
He said the decision was DERM's and believed it was because Meteor Downs South would be a "smaller" operation and not the first in the area, with Rolleston Coal just on the border.
Endocoal is currently developing a Bankable Feasibility Study for the Meteor Downs South project, which should enlighten some of the company's plans for the area and allow it to make solid decisions on the project.
"We hope to wrap that up early next year," Mr Headley said.
"The EMP will be completed during 2012 and we would be hoping for approval by the end of 2012, which would mean operation by the end of 2013."
The Meteor Downs property was purchased by Xstrata a number of months ago from the Australian Agricultural Company for a whopping $21 million.
Mr Headley said Endocoal would have to go through a negotiation process with Xstrata like it would with any other landholder.
"There's a process to follow and we'll be hoping to set up a suitable compensation agreement," Mr Headley said.
He said there would definitely be social studies involved in the Environmental Management Plan, and Endocoal was aware of the community's needs.
"We see it as a way to bring jobs to the region but we're also very conscious of the community's accommodation needs," Mr Headley said.
"We intend to add value to the area while also being very sympathetic to the community.
"We are moving very quickly along the process, we've got strong intent and have had good advice."
"We see it as a way to bring jobs to the region but we're also very conscious of the community's accommodation needs."
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