(EnergyAsia, November 15 2012, Thursday) — The partners developing what could well be Australia’s largest coal deposits said they are pushing ahead with their multi-billion-dollar project dismissing reports that it faces significant delay from financing difficulties.

India’s GVK Group, the majority owner in the Alpha coal project in Queensland state, said it has approved more than A$100 million to develop associated rail and port infrastructure. (US$1=A$0.97). In 2011, GVK acquired its 79% stake from Australia’s Hancock Prospecting Pty, which retains the remaining 21% share.

In affirming its commitment to start production in 2016, the company said:

“As we line up the many milestones over the coming 12 months to bring this project into reality, approvals and permitting continue to remain our focus. We see the project receiving State Development Area approval for the railway in late Q3 2013.

“We have reviewed our project timeframes and believe that a realistic date for financial close is in the latter part of 2013.”

In a show of its “unwavering support” for the project, GVK said it is focusing on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) commercial terms and conditions with shortlisted contractors.

“We will continue to work with those contractors already shortlisted, appointed or with a preferred status to ensure that deadlines will be met.

“We are well placed with our financial advisors ANZ, Société Générale, Macquarie and Citi to achieve Financial Close next year whereby all material construction, operation and off-take contracts will be executed. We are ramping up our concurrent activities to meet the market demands for our coal in the latter half of 2016.”

Alpha, the most important thermal coal deposit in the Galilee Basin, is being developed as a 30 million tonnes/year open-cut mine with an expected production life of over 30 years.