Alpha Coal Project

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The Alpha Coal Project is a proposed open-cut coal mine to be operated by GVK Resources and Hancock Coal, that is set to produce 32 million tonnes per annum, near Alpha, Queensland, Australia.[1][2]

As of 2023, there have been no recent project developments (the latest public news appears to have been in 2017).[3] Because of this, the project is presumed cancelled.


The map below shows the approximate location of the project in Queensland, Australia.

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There is currently no mining in the Galilee Basin, but Adani's Carmichael Coal Project has been approved and it could be the first mine in the basin opening up further mines by providing both a precedent and rail infrastructure.[4] This is the reason that there has been such a concerted campaign against the Carmichael mine.[5]

If the Adani mine goes ahead then the Alpha coal project becomes much more viable as this project relies on another coal mining company constructing a railway to export the coal.[6]

The project would produce 32 million tonnes of thermal coal per annum. The Alpha coal project also requires the construction of a 495 km long section of railway to the Abbot Point Coal Terminal. In 2011 the total cost of the mine, port and rail facilities for the project were estimated to be $7.9 billion comprising $3.4 billion for the mine, $2.8 billion for the rail connection and $1.7 billion on the export terminal. The Queensland government states that the projects would employ 3,740 during construction and 2,650 when operating.[7]

If all three of GVK Hancock Coal's Galille projects were to start operating, Alpha Coal Project and Kevin's Corner Coal Project and Alpha West coal project would use the same rail link to Abbot Point coal terminal before the coal is exported. The three mines will also share site based infrastructure such as electric power lines, water supply, airports and roads.[8]

Since 2013 the Alpha Coal Mine development has largely stagnated, the mining lease for the Alpha coal mine has been delayed, apparently at the request of the proponents. The reason for the delay appears to be due to the coal companies deciding the mines were not financially viable with the low price of thermal coal from 2012-2016 and the poor outlook for the coal market.[9]

While the applications have not been withdrawn and as of September 2019 continue to be live, whether they will actually proceed in the future appears to be dependent on a substantial recovery of the coal price and outlook for the coal market.[9]

On its website, Hancock Coal stated that "in 1993 Mrs. Rinehart decided HPPL Hancock Prospecting should apply for the Alpha thermal coal tenements in Queensland. An extensive exploration program and a pre-feasibility study have since been undertaken by HPPL, and a JORC reserve of in excess of two billion tonnes of good quality thermal coal, has been identified. In 2011 HPPL was in the process of seeking partners to develop this major resource."[10]

The application process for this mine was started in 2008.[9]

There was a trial shipment of coal from the Alpha coal mine in 2011. In a media release Hancock Coal stated that "the first shipment is destined for a power station in the Republic of Korea." The company stated that the "first coal export ceremony" will be "attended by prospective international coal customers, predominantly from the power generation sector. Hancock has ensured a broad ranging customer base encompassing some 13 buyers in 6 countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, China, Korea, and India."[11]

In mid-September 2011 GVK announced that, via subsidiaries, it had entered into agreements with Hancock Prospecting to buy 79% of Hancock Coal's Alpha Coal Project, the Alpha West coal project Hancock's interest in "the rail and port project connecting the above coal projects to the port of Abbot Point and Abbot Point T3 expansion project".[12] When the project was first acquired by GVK in September 2011, the company expected first coal production in 2014.[2]

The mine is the first to be approved by both the Government of Queensland and the Federal Government to be built in the Galilee Basin. State approval was granted on the 29 May 2012 and federal approval was granted on the 23 August 2012.[13]

In 2013 the Land Court of Queensland heard the objections to the mine relating to ground water and other environmental issues and upheld their concerns regarding groundwater impacts of the mine. It recommended that the applications for the mine be refused or, alternatively, that the applications be granted subject to further assessment of the groundwater impacts under the Water Act 2000 (Queensland). The Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection granted the application for an environmental authority, subject to further assessment of the groundwater impacts.[9]

Coast and Country Association of Queensland objected to the Land Court's decision at the Supreme Court, saying that it had misunderstood the legal tests to be applied to the applications and in relation to the environmental harm caused by the mine’s contribution to climate change. Coast Country Association of Queensland also challenged the Ministers’ decisions through judicial review on the basis that the decisions lacked finality and had not followed the correct legal process. This was dismissed by the supreme court in 2015. The group then appealed the Supreme Court’s dismissal of its application for judicial review to the Queensland Court of Appeal in relation to the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions. This was also lost.

In 2014 French bank, Société Générale, has suspend its involvement as an adviser in raising finance for GVK group's Hancock Coal project in Australia, due to the delays in the project.[14]

Environmental issues

The project would impact 20,618 hectares of woodland and grazing land and the mine is expected to extract 176 billion liters of water over its 30 year lifetime.[2] Graziers around the property objected to the potential impacts of the proposed mine on groundwater and other environmental impacts of the mine. Conservation groups objected in addition on concerns regarding the worsening of climate change.[9]

There is significant concern about the project's impacts on the great barrier reef as the coal is expected to be exported from Abbot Point Coal Terminal. The controversial port project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic meters of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.[15]

Importing guest workers

In February 2012, GVK vice-chairman Sanjay Reddy suggested that the company was likely to apply to use guest workers via the Enterprise Migration Scheme for the Alpha Coal Project. "Anybody who has an investment of more than $2 billion, plus more than some 2000 workforce, will be eligible for it,” Mr. Reddy told The Australian Financial Review. "If we have an option to apply and get – as per the policy of the government – certain approvals, certainly we’ll do it.”[16]

However, following controversy about the approval of an Enterprise Migration Agreement for a Gina Rinehart iron ore project in Western Australia, GVK softened their position. In May 2012, Reddy told the Australian Financial Review that "we are in the process of negotiating our engineering, procurement and construction [EPC] contracts,” he said. “Once we finalize with the EPC contractors then we will decide."[17]

Project Details

  • Operator: GVK Hancock
  • Owner: GVK Resources (79%), Hancock coal (21%)
  • Location: 38 Km North West of Alpha, Queensland, Australia
  • GPS Coordinates: -23.389482, 146.397340 (approximate)
  • Status: Cancelled[18]
  • Production Capacity: 32 mtpa[19]
  • Total Resource: 2.6 billion tonnes[18]
  • Minable Reserves: 821 million tonnes (measured)[20]
  • Coal Type: Thermal[19]
  • Mine Size: 21,400 hectares[18]
  • Mine Type: Surface[18]
  • Start Year:
  • Source of Financing:

Contact details


Articles and resources


  1. GVK, "About us", accessed 16 September 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Galilee Basin "Alpha", accessed 16 September 2019.
  3. "High Court of Australia dismisses legal challenge against the Alpha Coal Mine", GVK Hancock website, 7 Apr. 2017.
  4. Michael Slezak "Clive Palmer seeks approval for 'monster mine' next door to Adani", ABC News, 26 April 2018.
  5. Stop Adani "Why we will #StopAdani", Stop Adani website, accessed 20 January 2020.
  6. Michael Slezak "Clive Palmer seeks approval for 'monster mine' next door to Adani", ABC News, 26 April 2018.
  7. Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, "Alpha coal mine", Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, website, accessed September 2011.
  8. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Environmental Law Australia, "Alpha Coal Mine Case",accessed 16 September 2019.
  9. Hancock Coal, "Board and Senior Management", Hancock Coal, accessed May 2011.
  10. Hancock Coal, "Hancock locks in first coal exports from Queensland", Media Release, May 23, 2011.
  11. GVK, "GVK acquires Hancock Coal and Infrastructure Projects in Australia", Media Release, September 16, 2011.
  12. The Times of India, [ "GVK's $10 bn coal project gets Australian govt's approval" 23 August 2012.
  13. Money Control, "Societe General to exit from GVK's Hancock coal project", 8 December 2014.
  14. ABC news, "Abbot Point: Federal Government approves huge coal port expansion near Great Barrier Reef"22 December 2015.
  15. Dan Hall, "GVK plans to import labour", Australian Financial Review, February 24, 2012. (Subscription required)
  16. Dan Hall, "Foreign workers ‘last resort’", Australian Financial Review, May 29, 2012.(Subscription required)
  17. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Mining Technology, "Alpha Coal Project, Queensland", Accessed 6 June 2022.
  18. 19.0 19.1 GVK Resources, "Alpha", accessed 16 September 2019.
  19. Hancock Prospecting, Hancock's Coal Projects, June 2011

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