Idemitsu Australia Resources has applied to extend the life of Ensham Mine near Emerald.
Idemitsu Australia Resources has applied to extend the life of Ensham Mine near Emerald.

CQ underground mine extension to support 600 full time jobs

A mine owner has lodged a proposal to expand a controversial underground project to support more than 600 full time jobs to 2037.

Idemitsu Australia Resources is preparing an environmental impact statement to extend the life of Ensham mine's operation, located 35 kilometres east of Emerald.

If approved, the project would continue to produce about 4.5m tonnes of thermal coal per annum and maintain the current operational workforce of 603.

Idemitsu chief executive Steve Kovac said extending the mine life would continue the flow-on benefits Ensham mine had provided for the local community since 1993 in supporting local jobs, suppliers and housing markets.

"Because the proposal would extend our existing operations, we consider it a low risk project that can be managed within our proven environmental management systems to minimise and mitigate the impacts," Mr Kovac said.

"We will continue to consult with our stakeholders through the approvals process and over the life of the project, to build on our existing relationships and show that we are committed to the wellbeing of our local community."

Ensham mine made headlines in March when Idemitsu and the state's Environment Department denied that the release of salty water into a Central Queensland river would do environmental harm.

In November 2019, the company also denied it was trying to use a loophole in Queensland's new rehabilitation laws to leave three massive mine pit voids and let taxpayers pick up the $379m clean-up bill.

Lock the Gate Alliance rehabilitation spokesman Rick Humphries said the proposed extension presented an opportunity for the Environment Department to review its decision that "allows the company to leave massive holes on the flood plain".

"The company received a concession from the Queensland Palaszczuk government to leave massive pit voids on the flood plains, and now it plans on mining directly underneath the Nogoa River, which could lead to a whole range of subsidence and other issues," Mr Humphries said.

"Idemitsu needs to leave the river alone."

Ensham Mine, near Emerald
Ensham Mine, near Emerald

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The company said extensive stakeholder consultation had been undertaken during the mine planning and environmental impact assessment to identify and address landowner, community and government concerns, and to ensure environmental impacts were minimised.

The Ensham mine expansion project would use existing underground and surface infrastructure including road, rail and mine infrastructure equipment.

Plans stated there would not be any additional surface infrastructure or surface disturbance within the new mining lease area.

The Environment Department is accepting written public submissions about the EIS until June 8, 2021.

For more information, visit here.

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