An aerial view of Wiggins Island Coal Terminal, Gladstone.
An aerial view of Wiggins Island Coal Terminal, Gladstone. Brenda Strong

Gloomy outlook for mines with $7 billion project in doubt

MAJOR projects in the Gladstone region are hardly on death row, but noise about further development continues to worsen.

Xstrata yesterday conceded its $7 billion Wandoan Coal project in south-west Queensland could be in doubt.

That project is significant for the Gladstone region, because coal from the Wandoan Mine would travel via the Surat Basin rail project to Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal or Balaclava Island to the north.

Xstrata rail and port general manager Dierdre Mikkelson, who was speaking at a major projects conference in Brisbane yesterday, said Xstrata expected the State Government to approve its mining lease early next year, but its future rested on market conditions and its ability to secure funding.

The Wandoan project is a vital cog in justifying the need for a large-scale rail line that would funnel Surat Basin coal through WICET or Balaclava Island.

Surat Basin Rail chief operating officer Allan Miller described Wandoan's importance to the project as a "one in, all in".

"People appreciate the Wandoan mine is a critical component for the volume of coal that will go down that line," he said.

The comments do not cast doubt over the WICET project under construction. Any setbacks on Wandoan would only be a factor for a Stage 2 expansion of WICET.

Even then, there may be other coal mines keen to come aboard.



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