The Queensland government has approved the Olive Downs metallurgical coal project in the Bowen Basin, meaning that construction will begin in 2020 if the Commonswealth approves.

Pembroke Resources' AU$1 Billion project is hoped to create 500 construction jobs and 1,000 operational positions, producing 15 million ton of metallurgical coal a year once it is up and running.

QLD officials played up the expected benefits to the local economy.

"At a time when Queensland's unemployment rate is increasing and it is among Australia’s highest, the approval of Olive Downs coal project is a commitment of confidence amid attacks and threats of increased tax on coal," said Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane.  "The approval of projects like Olive Downs provides the opportunity for more jobs, more exports and more royalties for Queenslanders."

Pembroke's Olive Downs will produce up to 15 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year to satisfy an increased demand for the commodity from Asia, which uses it for steel production.