Queensland grants final approval for $1.7 billion coal mine project

The Australian state of Queensland has granted final approval for building a $1.7 billion coal mine, paving the way for the Grosvenor mine to start producing coal for export to steel mills in 2013.

The Grosvenor project, designed to produce 7 million tonnes of high quality coking coal annually, was crucial for Anglo American to meet its planned target of coking coal production by 2020, the company said.

The decision by the company to press ahead with the project comes amid loud complaints by the industry against sharply rising operating and capital costs in Australia, regulatory red tape and a carbon tax and mining tax, both set to take effect in July.

The approval comes after the project was granted environmental clearance by the state and federal governments last year.

"The Grosvenor mine will create up to 1,000 new jobs for Queenslanders and represents a significant expansion of Anglo American's Queensland operations," the state's natural resources and mines minister Andrew Cripps said in a statement.

Anglo American said construction work would begin with first production expected in 2013 and longwall mining to get under way in 2016, much on similar lines to its existing Moranbah North mine.