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Coal sea of Galilee


The opening up of the Galilee Basin is being touted as the saviour of Queensland’s coal industry. One man who knows more about the subject than most is the Managing Director of Waratah Coal, Nui Harris.
With three Galilee projects on the drawing board – The Galilee Coal Project, Alpha North and Carmichael East – Nui explains to Queensland Mining and Energy Bulletin, why Waratah has invested so heavily in the region.

The price of coal has dropped, globally, and is not expected to rise to its previous dizzy heights again in the near future, thanks to competition from leaner greener energy sources such as LNG and natural gas. With this in mind, why is Waratah Coal forging ahead with three large scale coal projects in the Galilee Basin?

The scale of projects being proposed by Waratah Coal in the Galilee Basin would have them operate a sustainable business at current coal prices. The high energy, low sulphur coals produced makes these projects competitive with other energy sources.

140404-Nui-HarrisIn November last year, the Newman Government released the Galilee Basin Development Strategy aimed at providing mining companies with tax breaks to kickstart development of the region. Do you think the government’s fiscal carrots are sweet enough?

Waratah are encouraged by the “Galilee Basin Development Strategy” draft and government’s actions to facilitate infrastructure development for Galilee Basin proponents. Waratah looks forward to working closely with government, developing infrastructure for the Galilee Basin.

The Government is keen for Galilee Basin miners to enter into ‘joint infrastructure arrangements’ to fasttrack projects. Is Waratah currently in negotiations with other companies with a stake in the Galilee?

Waratah has an approved State and Commonwealth rail network and seeks partnerships to expedite construction of this facility. They are currently talking with Galilee Basin proponents.

In your view, what benefits will opening up the Galilee Basin bring to local communities such as Alpha? What opportunities can you see being created for local job seekers, mine service providers and other suppliers?

Establishing Waratah’s China First mine and associated infrastructure will create 6,000 jobs during construction and 2,460 jobs during operation in a massive boost to the local, regional, state and national economies

Environmental groups have been very vocal in their concerns about what effect mining will have on sensitive environmental areas in the Galilee Basin, and on certain endangered species. What is Waratah Coal doing to address these community concerns?

The China First Project has gone through a rigorous environmental approvals process over more than five years. The EIS process has involved consultation with a significant number of stakeholders including elected representatives, federal and state government agencies as well as non-governmental agencies, local councils, indigenous representatives, the private sector, public organisations and local residents. Our EIS has been approved by the Queensland and federal governments.

Waratah will continue to work with all stakeholders during construction and operations developing relationships, partnerships and plans to mitigate project impacts.

Water will be one of the biggest challenges to opening up the Galilee Basin. How is Waratah planning to supply water for the needs of the three proposed mines?

The mining environment will be made safe by dewatering the same area. Surface run-off water within this same area will be contained on site. The combination of these waters will be utilised for site operations and later recycled. Pipe line systems being proposed for the Galilee Basin will be used as backup.

What is the status of Waratah’s proposed coal terminal at Abbot Point?

Waratah proposes a 240 Mtpa coal facility at Abbot Point, which closely aligns with the AP-X coal terminal proposed by government. Waratah are working closely with government and their recently announced “Galilee Basin Development Strategy”, to expedite port development.

“Waratah proposes a 240 Mtpa coal facility at Abbot Point, which closely aligns with the AP-X coal terminal proposed by government.”

Nui Harris
Managing Director of Waratah Coal

Nui Harris currently holds the position as Managing Director of Waratah Coal and is a Director of Fairway Coal. He has over 25 years experience in the mining and construction industries. He has successfully filled a variety of roles including Design Manager, Construction and Project Manager on a variety of large scale mining and construction ventures in Queensland and the Northern Territory. He holds a Bachelor of Science and an MBA current.

Mr Harris took over as Managing Director at Waratah Coal in 2011 and has overseen the exploration and development of coal tenements throughout regional Queensland and New South Wales, where significant resources have been discovered. The key focus in recent years however has been the development of “Galilee Coal Project (Northern Export Facility)” an $8.8 billion dollar coal infrastructure project in the Galilee Basin and the “Styx Coal Project” in the Styx Basin.

Waratah Coal’s Galilee Coal Project (Northern Export Facility) coal mine, rail and infrastructure development in Central West Queensland received an approval for its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the State and Commonwealth Governments in late 2013. Mr Harris now looks to develop port approvals for the project and anticipates producing coal from the Galilee Basin in 2018.

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