Linc Energy has bought Blair Athol Mine for $1

IT WOULD not be enough to buy you a burger, but for $1, Linc Energy now owns a coal mine.

Through its subsidiary New Emerald Coal, Linc will resuscitate Blair Athol in Central Queensland - creating 100 jobs in the process - after Rio Tinto turned off its lights in November last year.

The figure is fewer than the 170 the site had when under the control of Rio Tinto, but New Emerald expects the number to grow as the operation shudders back to life.

Rio shut the mine after describing it as "largely mined out" in August 2012.

News broke via the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday that Linc picked up the 29-year-old mine.

Blair Athol is to restart operations within six months, but Linc is impatient and wants it mining by early 2014.

Rumours swirled in April that Rio Tinto was trying to offload its Blair Athol and Clermont mines, but the company refused to comment.

Linc chief executive Peter Bond said he expected New Emerald to pull up to three million tonnes of coal per year from the site, for potentially the next decade.

"We've done a very good deal," Mr Bond said. "It would have been worth a lot more money a few years ago."

So how is New Emerald to succeed where one of the world's largest multinational miners failed?

"The cost base of a big company is very different to a smaller operation," he said.

"It was the fact that Rio could not run the (mine) at a profit.

"We have up to 10 years of coal available if we're clever

"Ten years at three million tonnes a year is good money."

Linc will take over the mining tenure, some on-site assets, infrastructure and environmental obligations.

These obligations include the $84 million in bond held by the Queensland Government to guarantee the site would be rehabilitated.

Rio Tinto has already confirmed it would pay Linc to help with the cost of repairs but it's unclear how much.

The deal is to be finalised within six months.


  • 1864: Coal discovered at site.
  • 1981: First contract signed to mine.
  • 1984: Site opened by Qld Premier.
  • 1990s: Blair Athol is expanded.
  • 2009: Blair Athol hits peak, exporting 11.3 million tonnes of coal.
  • 2012: Shut down by Rio Tinto.
  • 2013: Bought by Linc Energy.
  • 2014: To reopen with 100 workers.

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