Coal mine bought for less than a packet of Fruit Tingles

THE company that scored a mine for less than a roll of fruit tingles from Rio Tinto could be producing coal by the end of June.

New Emerald Coal, a firm spun off from Linc Energy, bought the ageing and mothballed Blair Athol mine near Clermont for $1 last year. In its hunt for workers, NEC sifted through more than 2000 applications that were whittled down to 400 finalists.

It would eventually hire just 120 from nearby Clermont, Emerald, Mackay and Rockhampton.

NEC now expects that final wrangling over the mining lease could be sorted out by mid-April, allowing Blair Athol to mine its first coal by June 30.

Although more work is yet to be done on the site to strengthen its projections, already NEC plans to pull 1.43 million tonnes of coal from the site in 2014 alone.

The boutique mine would hit its peak production in 2019, mining 1.88 million tonnes for the year.

Volumes would fall from then on, trickling down below the million tonne mark as it prepares to close in 2025.

Rio Tinto announced the sale of the 30-year-old Blair Athol in October last year.

The deal was to be finalised within six months.