Wandoan Coal Project
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The Wandoan Coal Project is a proposed open cut coal mine, operated by Glencore Coal Queensland, along with ICRA Wandoan and Sumisho Coal Australia, to produce 30 million tonnes per annum, 5 km to the west and north-west of town of Wandoan in the Bowen Basin in Queensland, Australia.
Glencore's has listed the project as "on hold" since 2013, although it's still considered proposed by the Queensland government. It is likely the project has been shelved until the company assess "the project’s timing against the global coal market and our overall portfolio."
The undated imaged below shows a point within the proposed mine area.
The mining lease was applied for in 2007, and the project’s environmental impact statement was approved in 2010, while commonwealth environmental approval was received in 2011.
In September 2013 , while Glencore was awaiting the granting of the Mining Leases for the project by the Queensland State Government, Glencore announced that the project had been put on hold and that the decision would not change with granting of the Mining Leases. Glencore said it will continue to assess the project’s timing against the global coal market and its overall portfolio, demonstrating supply discipline. Glencore said it will only bring on new production volumes if it is confident that doing so will not materially add to oversupply in the market and have a negative impact on global coal prices.
The proposed mining lease application area covers approximately 32,000 hectares in the largely un-mined Surat Basin. According to the proponents, Glencore the mine would "have an expected life of more than 30 years" producing approximately 30 million tonnes run-of-mine coal a year. In its outline of the project it was stated that the project could be expanded to 40 million tonnes a year "if market conditions change and warrant the installation and operation of a fourth coal preparation plant unit". The mine complex would include a number of open-cut mines.
- Sponsor: Glencore Coal Queensland (75%) along with ICRA Wandoan (12.5%) and Sumisho Coal Australia (12.5%)
- Parent Company: Glencore, ICRA and Sumitomo Corporation respectively
- Location: Surat Basin just west of the Wandoan township
- GPS Coordinates: -26.12621, 149.8487 (exact)
- Status: Shelved
- Production Capacity: 30 Mtpa
- Total Resource: in excess of 1,200 million tonnes
- Mineable Reserves: 846 million tonnes
- Coal type: Thermal
- Mine Size: 32,000 hectares
- Mine Type: surface
- Start Year:
- Source of Financing:
Opposition to the mine
Local landowners were objecting to the mine on the grounds of water impacts, impact on farmland, and other impacts on their lives and businesses. Friends of the Earth objected to the mine on the grounds of the global climate change impacts of burning 40 million tonnes of coal each year for 35 years.
Lock the Gate and GetUp are against the mine. Following the final approvals Lock the Gate spokesperson, Carmel Flint said, “The approval of this mine by Minister Anthony Lynham marks a very dark day for farming in Queensland. The mine will extract 22 million tonnes of coal each year for 35 years and destroy up to 32,000 hectares of farmland on the Western Downs. A large number of farmers have already been displaced by Glencore over this vast area, and now we fear that remaining farmers on and near the lease will be forced out. This project will be eligible for a secretive Queensland Government loan via the royalty deferral package announced in June... The Queensland Government has completely lost its way – they need to urgently rethink their ‘coal at all costs’ agenda and instead stand up for agriculture, water security and a safe climate.”
On 4 May 2011, Xstrata faced the Land Court of Queensland over the greenhouse impacts of the coal mine and the impacts on farmers who live on the proposed mine site. Friends of the Earth lodged an objection with the Land Court over the carbon dioxide emissions from the mine. Seventy farming and grazing properties lay inside the Wandoan mining lease. The farmers were unsucessful in their case against the Land Court in 2012. The trial called a variety of experts to give evidence on the impacts that this mine will have on Queensland’s environment and the global climate. The Wandoan Coal Project’s estimated greenhouse gas emissions (0.08% of Australia's total GHG emissions) was outlined in both the project’s Environmental Impact Statement – released in December 2008 – and November 2009 supplementary EIS, but excluded emissions associated with the subsequent burning of the coal by third parties.
After several months of deliberations, the court rejected the climate change arguments. The landowners had a mixed outcome. The Erbacher family and a couple of other local landowners continued with their legal fight. In 2013 the farmers won a landmark compensation claim against Xstrata − which the company appealing. Glencore Xstrata lost the appeal in 2014.
The Wandoan Coal Project was being developed by Xstrata Coal Queensland part of global mining group Xstrata. Xstrata was acquired by Glencore in 2013 and the asset swapped hands. The Wandoan project would be a joint venture comprising "Xstrata Coal Queensland (XCQ) (75% ownership), ICRA (Itochu) (12.5% ownership) and Sumisho Coal Australia (12.5% ownership)."
To deliver the coal to the Wiggins Island Coal Terminal at Gladstone port for export, a 200km long trainline is required. The proposed Surat Basin Rail, has been at a standstill since 2012 due to depressed coal prices. One of the four proponents involved in the rail project, ATEC Rail Group Limited, said in its last update of the project that its time frame was "uncertain".
In 2017 Glencore said "Adding significant new tonnes to the market at this time could adversely impact the profitability of existing thermal coal production, potentially putting jobs at risk as the market adjusts downwards as a result of oversupply. The Wandoan Coal Project will require a multi-billion dollar capital investment for both the mine and related rail infrastructure."
The project proponents state that "XCQ [Xstrata Coal Queensland] is participating in a Joint Venture to investigate the construction of a new rail connection known as the Surat Basin Rail, between Wandoan and the existing Moura-Gladstone line at Banana. XCQ is also working closely with QR Network regarding upgrades to its existing connections from Moura to Gladstone, and is coordinating with potential new port developments at Wiggins Island, of which Glencore is a part owner, and Balaclava Island. Together these developments comprise the Surat Basin Coal Value Chain, which would provide critical mass to open up the Surat Basin in Queensland for major investment and regional development." (The section of proposed railway line between Wandoan and the existing Moura-Gladstone line is sometimes referred to as the Southern Missing Link railway line.) There is speculation that if the Wandoan mine does not commence then other projects to exploit coal from the Surat Basin may not happen as the rail project relies on Wandoan and the other mines rely on the railway.
- Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation: http://www.deedi.qld.gov.au/cg/wandoan-coal-project.html
- Xstrata Coal Australia: http://www.wandoancoal.com.au/
Articles and resources
- Australian Mining, "Central Queensland Coal Project Assessments", Australian Mining website, 15 June 2009.
- Glencore, "Wandoan Coal Project", Wanodoan Coal Project website, accessed 31 October 2019.
- Xstrata Coal Australia, "Wandoan Coal Project Integrated EIS Summary", Xstrata Coal Australia, December 2008, page 3.
- Esmarie Iannucci, "Qld approves Glencore's Wandoan plans",Creamer Media's Mining Weekly website, 9 August 2017.
- Wandoan Coal, "Cook Colliery", Wandoan Coal website, accessed August 2010.
- Xstrata Coal Australia, "Initial Advice Statement", Xstrata Coal Australia, page 2, December 2007.
- Glencore, "Project Approvals", Wanodoan Coal Project website, accessed 31 October 2019.
- Guardian staff and agencies, "Project Approvals", Guardian, 9 August 2017.
- Xstrata Coal Australia, "Wandoan Coal Project Integrated EIS Summary", Xstrata Coal Australia, December 2008, page 4.
- WSP, "Wandoan Coal Mine, Queensland", WSP website, accessed 31 October 2019.
- John Hepburn, "Wandoan coal project scrapped", Friends of the Earth Australia, Chain Reaction #119, November 2013.
- Lock the Gate, "Wandoan Coal Mine Approval Puts Western Downs Farmland at Risk", 9 August 2017.
- Annie Guest, "Farmers in last-ditch bid to stop $7bn Xstrata mine" ABC News, 17 January 2013.
- "Global mining giant in court today" The Chronicle, May 4, 2011.
- Surat Basin News, "Landowner victory as mining giant loses compo appeal" 15 May 4 2014.
- "Glencore finishes takeover of Xstrata". FT.com. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- Gladstone Observer, "Gladstone rail link, billions of dollars needed for mega mine "10 august 2017.