The Valeria coal project is a large-scale greenfield open-pit coal mine proposed to be developed by Valeria Coal Holdings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Glencore, in Central Queensland Australia.
The Valeria coal project is estimated to cost between £800m (($1bn) and £1.2bn ($1.5bn). The project is expected to produce 20 million tonnes (Mt) high-quality metallurgical and thermal coal a year over an estimated mine life of 35 years.
Glencore acquired the Valeria coal property from Rio Tinto in 2018 and lodged three mining lease applications for the project with the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) of the Government of Queensland in 2019. Two Environmental Authority (EA) applications were also submitted to the Department of Environment and Science (DES) in the same year.
The Queensland government granted special status to the project in June 2020. The Valeria project is intended to replace production from Glencore’s other coal operations in Australia that are approaching the end of their mine lives. Glencore is Australia’s biggest coal producer that currently operates 15 open-pit and underground coal mines in Queensland and New South Wales (NSW).
Subject to final approval, the construction on the Valeria project is expected to be started in 2024 with the start of production likely in 2026. The project is anticipated to create approximately 1,400 construction jobs and approximately 950 full-time jobs during the operation phase.
Location and geology
The Valeria coal mine is situated approximately 27km northwest of Emerald and 8km southwest of Capella in the Bowen Basin, Central Queensland, Australia.
Located approximately 270km to the west of Rockhampton, the project area comprises three mining licenses spread over 28,267ha, while the total disturbance area for the project is estimated to be 10,000ha.
The Valeria coal deposit lies within the northern portion of the Denison Trough sub-basin at the southern margin of the Bowen Basin, Australia’s biggest coal basin that spreads over approximately 60,000km2 in Central Queensland.
The surface geology of the Valeria project area is characterised by various anticlines and synclines with north to north-west trending fold axes, and the coal resources are contained within Early to Middle Permian age seams.
Coal resources at Valeria
The Valeria coal project was estimated to hold 530Mt of indicated and 200Mt of indicated coal resources as of December 2019.
Mining and coal processing
Valeria is proposed to be a conventional open-pit mining operation involving the use of trucks and shovels for the removal of overburden as well as for the extraction of run-of-the-mine (ROM) coal. The overburden and waste rock will be drilled and blasted prior to removal.
A total of eight open-pits are planned to be developed in stages as part of the project.
The ROM coal will be trucked to a nearby 20Mtpa coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP) where coal will be separated from waste material. The tailings and rejects will be sent to a tailings storage facility (TSF) and the final coal product will be sent to a train load-out facility.
The Valeria project can be accessed through the Gregory Highway which runs approximately 8.5km east of the mine site and the Capricorn Highway which runs approximately 16km south of the project area.
The Central Western Railway which runs from Rockhampton to Winton is located approximately 16km away from the project site.
The electricity for the project will be sourced from the diesel-powered generators during the construction phase and through a 66/132kV power line from the grid during the operational stage.
The other infrastructure facilities for the project will include ROM pad, hopper and stockpile, site access roads and internal haul roads, waste rock dumps, load-out facility, and product stockpile, rail loop, and train load-out facility, mine water management dams and storage facilities, sewage treatment facilities, office buildings, and amenities.