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Rio Tinto gives nod to Clermont coal mine

<p>Rio Tinto and its joint venture partners have approved the development of the $950m Clermont coal mine, in Central Queensland, to supply the Japanese power station market.</p> <p>Rio Tinto’s chief executive energy, Preston Chiaro, said the open cut mine would replace the highly successful Blair Athol mine, 15 km to the southeast, and take advantage of its existing infrastructure and market position.</p> <p>&#8220Even during this current time of pressure on capital projects, the Clermont mine is a very attractive investment and will operate in the lowest cost quartile of Australian thermal coal producers,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220When completed, the mine will produce 12.2m tones of high quality thermal coal each year, supplying Japanese coal utilities and other customers.</p> <p>&#8220The mine is expected to have a life of about 17 years at this production rate.</p> <p>&#8220First coal shipments are expected in the second quarter of 2010, with full capacity being reached in 2013.&#8221</p> <p>The Clermont mine will employ people in the construction phase and about 380 during operations.</p> <p>"As Blair Athol ramps down, Clermont will begin replacing this capacity, ensuring a seamless transition for our customers,&#8221 Rio Tinto Coal Australia managing director Douglas Ritchie said.</p> <p>Rio Tinto Coal Australia and a partner are also evaluating the Kunloon deposit near Tarong mine and expect a decision by June.</p> <br />