Newcomer tells of coal bounty
UP TO 1400 jobs could be created by mining newcomer International Coal after it told the ASX of the massive coal bounty it discovered in South-West Queensland.
The group announced on Wednesday morning that its South Blackall project - about 80km northeast of Quilpie - had at least 728 million tonnes of thermal coal over just 15% of its site.
By the time drilling is finished, International director David Round said the estimate could eclipse three billion tonnes.
To put the scale of this into perspective, although mining a different type of coal, the southern hemisphere's largest planned mine in Wandoan is expected to export about 900 million tonnes over its 30-year life.
The figures released by International are "inferred" but backed by the resource industry's formal guidelines that govern resource deposits.
"This is better than we expected, substantially better," Mr Round said.
The open-cut mine could be operational by 2016, but if it becomes bogged down by government approvals, that could blow out to 2019.
The South Blackall mine would ideally export up to 50 million tonnes per year at its peak, most likely being dispatched for a terminal at Abbotcor Point in Central Queensland.
"Economically, we would have to move between 20 million tonnes and 50 million tonnes per year," Mr Round said. "And we confidently can with what will happen in the future."
He flagged that rather than investing in an exclusive railway line to move the thermal coal - used to produce electricity - International would likely join with magnate Gina Rinehart's nearby project to share infrastructure.
"We would have to develop unique infrastructure to the site, or talk to the other operators nearby."
International would look to have "up to 1000 workers involved over a couple of years", with contractors on top of that.
When International hit the ASX 12 months ago, its prospectus described the South Blackall project coal deposits as "likely to be of relatively low quality".
But the same document also suggested there would roughly 468 million tonnes to be mined, a number almost half of what was announced on Wednesday.