Sun goes down on Blair Athol mine

The final shifts are being worked at a central highlands coal mine in Queensland, which will close today after 30 years of operation.

Coal was originally discovered near Clermont in 1864 during a search for water.

Small scale mining was carried out around the town of Blair Athol over the next 120 years, but the community was then relocated to allow a new mine to be developed.

First coal was exported from Blair Athol for Japan in May 1984 and since then, almost 250-million tonnes has been dug.

End of an era Shorty Bryant, who worked his last shift earlier this week after 25 years at Blair Athol, says he will miss the mine.

"I'll sit and think about it at odd times, I'll come back out here to Clermont every now and then to see everybody and keep in touch," he said.

"It's like an old country town, not just a mining town and there was all sorts of industries, cattle and grain and so the whole town mixed together pretty well, you know." Former Isaac Regional Councillor Rob Williams says it is the end of an era for Clermont.

"Of course Blair Athol was a very very major part of town, I think we're all feeling a bit of sadness," he said.

"Something that's been in Clermont for 100 odd years or so is finally coming to an end.

"There's still rehabilitation and that will be going on for years, but the actual finality of where not digging any more coal, we knew it was coming, but it's going to take a while to sink in." Mine operator Rio Tinto says it is expected to take three to five years to fully rehabilitate the site.

Williams says some Blair Athol workers will have to leave the town to find work.

"The majority of the older ones, they'll be staying here," he said.

"It's just the young ones now they'll have to find work elsewhere and I suppose that's the industry we all work in now that something shuts down you've got to go somewhere else to look for it." Rio Tinto is continuing to mine coal in the area with the Clermont mine, which opened in 2010.

Union concerns Meanwhile, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Electrical Union (CFMEU) says an application will be made to the Federal Court in the coming weeks, over concerns about redundancy packages at Rio Tinto.

The CFMEU says the package being offered to union members is not as much as the one on offer for contract workers.

Rio Tinto has previously said the package is fair and is disappointed the union is pursing legal action.

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