by Tegan Annett
THE company behind a proposed $1 billion coal mine in the Surat Basin is likely to send its product overseas via Gladstone's world-class port.
Moreton Resources chief executive Jason Elks said the Port of Gladstone was the front-runner to send coal, mined at the proposed South Burnett Coal Project, internationally.
With loads of optimism, a supportive outlook on coal and promises to support central Queensland's skilled workforce, Mr Elks said within 12 months tradesmen could be building the coal mine west of Kingaroy.
The $1.2 billion project would create up to 800 construction jobs and 400 positions for ongoing work.
Mr Elks said during initial talks with the State Government, Brisbane Port and New Hope Port were ruled out of exporting the project's coal, leaving Gladstone as the "highly likely" choice.
"It's highly likely we will use Gladstone port, it's not guaranteed though, everything has to be competitive," he said.
"It's already an established, deep water port with very little restriction, there's lots of benefits.
"I also think this project fits with the long-term strategic plans to expand the Gladstone port."
Gladstone Ports Corporation chief executive Peter O'Sullivan said plans were under way to fulfil dreams of doubling exports from the port to 300 million tonnes per year.
He said while the majority of the expansion is harnessed on diversifying into container and log exports, Mr O'Sullivan said coal was "not dead".
Mr Elks had the same pro-coal rhetoric, stressing it had a future in Australia's energy mix.
The proposed project would mine 10 million tonnes of coal per year for 25 years.
Mr Elks told the 140 businessmen and women the job opportunities were real for the mine and rail project.
The company has spent $5 million in the past three years on studies and government approvals.
"In 12 months there's a possibility that each and every one of you could pick up work with Moreton Resources on this project. We're optimistic, we wouldn't be putting the money into it if we didn't believe in it," he said.
While it still needs government approval, Mr Elks is confident the project will reach public consultation by March.
He described himself as a "realist" when he said early development work should start late 2018.
"This is not something where we will receive the approvals for and sit on it ... the day after (this is approved) we will want to award tenders and build this mine and transport corridor," he said.