Red Hill mine development under consideration

THE world's largest mining company may have shelved plans for a major new mine in Central Queensland, but its eyes remained fixed on a lucrative expansion.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's Red Hill plans have been declared a "co-ordinated project" by the state Coordinator-General, a sign of it being considered a major development.

The Red Hill mine would create 3500 construction and operating jobs if it was eventually put back on the table.

In August last year, planning for Red Hill was put on hold "against a backdrop of a challenging market environment".

In its place, BMA is planning to expand its Broadmeadow and Goonyella Riverside mines, which requires some overlap into land earmarked for Red Hill.

The plans include extending three existing "long walls", which allow the mining of lengthy walls of coal in a single slice.

For Broadmeadow alone, this could amount to an extra five million tonnes of coal.

BMA will have the government consider not just the expansion, but the future environmental impacts of the currently-on-hiatus underground Red Hill project so that when conditions improve - or BMA is ready to stop cutting costs - it can act swiftly to develop.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said while he welcomed new developments and investment, environmental assessments would be strict.

"That's why this project will, like all others, go through a complex and thorough assessment and I am pleased to receive advice from the Coordinator-General that the environmental assessment of this project is now under way," he said.