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A $1 billion metallurgical coal mining project in central Queensland’s Bowen Basin is a step closer to being realised after being declared a coordinated project by Queensland’s independent Coordinator-General.

Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said the proposed Winchester South facility near Moranbah would create an estimated 950 jobs.

“From day one, the Palaszczuk Government’s focus has been about jobs,” Mr Dick said.

“This is a project that has the potential to boost the local economy and create well-paid jobs.

“It’s estimated this new mine could create around 500 jobs throughout the two-year construction period and up to 450 full-time jobs during operation.

“Since January 2015, almost 185,000 jobs have been created in Queensland, and our government will keep working to push that number higher.”

Member for Mackay and Assistant Minister for State Development Julieanne Gilbert said the proponent would target local employment in regional towns.

“This is good news for places like Moranbah, Dysart and Coppabella, and provides even more opportunities for regional Queensland,” Ms Gilbert said.

“In January 2015, the unemployment rate in Mackay was 5.5 per cent. It’s now below 4 per cent.

“Still, we know there is more work to do. That’s why we continue to focus on job creation.”

Mr Dick said the Palaszczuk Government’s Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Act would ensure central Queensland saw maximum benefit.

“The Act bans large resource projects from employing 100 per cent fly-in-fly-out workforces,” he said.

“This means regional Queensland will get the lion’s share of jobs, while that economic ripple effect will create opportunities for local small-and-medium-sized businesses.”

Whitehaven Coal’s Winchester South Coal Operations proposes an open cut metallurgical coal mine that will support the international steel-making industry.

The project would facilitate the extraction of up to eight million tonnes of product coal per annum for approximately 30 years.

The decision to declare Winchester South a coordinated project will help facilitate complex approvals as the project undergoes rigorous environmental, social and economic impact assessments.

Draft terms of reference will now be prepared by the Coordinator-General, who will then invite public comment on matters addressed in the environmental impact statement.

If approved, the project is estimated to commence construction in 2021, with the first coal extraction proposed for 2023.