Waratah Coal’s proposed $6.4-billion China First coal mine and infrastructure development in Central West Queensland has received an approval for its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the state’s coordinator general.

Brisbane-based Waratah Coal, owned by Clive Palmer, plans to build a thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin coal region near Alpha, west of Emerald, as part of its China First project.

The mine would be linked to a new coal terminal at Abbot Point near Bowen by a new 453-km standard gauge, heavy-haul railway line. Palmer said establishing the mine and associated infrastructure will create 6,000 jobs during construction and 2,460 jobs during operation in a massive boost to the state and national economies.

Waratah Coal Managing Director Nui Harris said the EIS approval was an important milestone for the China First project and Queensland. “A commonwealth EIS will now be lodged with the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities for review,” Harris said. “Subject to the commonwealth review, it is anticipated a final EIS will be lodged with the commonwealth for approval in late October.”

The China First project earlier this year had its Major Project Facilitation (MPF) status renewed by the federal government until December 31, 2016, and has also been declared a “Significant Project” by the Queensland government.