Queensland-based Vitrinite aims to start mining by mid-year at a new open-cut coal operation set to create about 150 permanent jobs.
The company already has a workforce on the ground at the Vulcan site to complete pre-mining civil works as well as building its office, workshop and mine infrastructure.
Vitrinite director Nicholas Williams said the work being undertaken now would pave the way for the start of mining at Vulcan by May 2021.
He said Vitrinite already had approvals to mine a 750,000-tonne bulk sample and had lodged its mining lease application.
It expected to see the mining lease granted within the next two months to allow the operation to produce 1.3-1.9Mtpa for around 10 years, Mr Williams said.
“We have current approvals for the bulk sample mining and will quickly ramp up to full-scale production once the mining lease is granted,” he said.
“Pre-mining civils will be completed in March this year. Our coal is very shallow and coal production will occur very quickly.”
Mr Williams said Vitrinite had contracted Turners Engineering to conduct mining operations at Vulcan and was finalising a contract with Kalari for ROM management and truck haulage of coal to a nearby wash plant.
The Vulcan hard coking coal project lies between Moranbah and Dysart in the Bowen Basin.
It will cost $20 million to bring the initial stage online, with a further $230 million in capital expenditure planned within the next three years.
While the company initially plans to toll wash Vulcan coal through a nearby coal handling and preparation plant, it intends to build a dedicated rail loop and CHPP as part of a mine expansion in the next two to three years.
Establishing the wash plant and rail loop for phase 2 would see up to 200 jobs created in construction, Mr Williams said.
“We are committed to the township of Dysart and the greater Isaac Region,” Mr Williams said.
“We have numerous rental properties in town already and are currently using multiple local contractors for construction as well as employing locally where possible.”
While Vitrinite’s priority is getting Vulcan into production before the second half of this year, Mr Williams said it was continuing to progress other projects within its portfolio.
“An ML has been lodged on Wilson Creek (20km northwest of Glenden) and we have completed baseline environmental studies,” he said.
“Karin Basin (south-east of Clermont) is in an early mine planning phase. Both of these projects will be developed over 2021, with mining tenure expected in 2022 to 2023.”
The company also remains on the lookout for or further promising assets, with a strategy of targeting known resource areas close to existing mines and infrastructure but with a scale that may not interest larger operators.
“Our development strategy is to start small, avoid debt and allow cash flow to fund expansion,” Mr Williams said.
“As such, we are able to maintain low overheads, keep CAPEX to a minimum and our operating costs will be in the lower percentile.
“We feel this is the model that will succeed in our changing industry and that large, potentially over-capitalised coal mines are going to get harder and harder to fund and/or get approved.
“More of the larger players are feeling the political pressure and are looking to transition out of coal and we feel that this will open opportunities for companies like ours.”