Steelmaker at ingot casting. Electric arc furnace shop EAF. Metallurgy.

The Queensland Government has greenlit two steelmaking coal mines to be developed by Futura Resources in the heart of the state’s ‘brown basin’.

The Wilton and Fairhill projects are located adjacent to one another about 50km north-east of Emerald, with coal to be processed using existing infrastructure at the nearby Gregory-Crinum mine.

Construction works are set to begin in early 2023, with coal production expected to begin within six months.

Both mines have an initial ten-year proposed lifespan but could be expanded to more than 20 years with continued exploration.

Futura Resource’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben Dunlop, said coal continued to play a big role in Australia’s and the world’s steelmaking and energy mix.

“We see ourselves as a sustainable, low environmental footprint producer utilising nearby existing infrastructure, including coal processing facilities which will be 50 per cent powered by renewable energy by end of 2023, Mr Dunlop said.

“We believe these projects are well positioned to meet future market demand for high-quality steelmaking coal and we will be supporting the people and communities of Central Queensland by using local suppliers and contractors where possible.

“One of the big upsides of advancing mining projects in Queensland is that we have very well-regulated safety standards, with mines that are well managed, progressively rehabilitated and environmentally sound.”

Queensland Resources Minister, Scott Stewart, said the approval of Futura Resources’ Fairhill and Wilton projects near Emerald was a big boost for the regional workforce and economy.

“This investment is a strong vote of confidence in the Queensland resources sector and our state’s large deposits of high-quality steelmaking coal,” Mr Stewart said.

“These projects are in the heart of the Bowen Basin and will benefit from the existing infrastructure in place from nearby mines.

“At their peak, these two mines will produce more than three million tonnes per year of steelmaking coal, which will be processed then transported by rail to the Port of Gladstone and exported to key international markets.

“This means from Emerald to Gladstone, regional communities will benefit from job opportunities and the economic flow-on effects of these projects.”

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