Australia’s Riversdale Mining (RIV.AX) said on Monday it had been granted permission by Mozambique’s government to proceed with its $800 million Benga coal project.

The company completed a feasibility study for the coal mine in July, in which it said it expects the project — which includes a hard coking and thermal coal mine — to have an anticipated run of 20 million tonnes per year.

“…following completion of an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) in mid 2009, the Ministrio para a Coordenao de Aco Ambiental (MICOA) has granted approval for the project to proceed,” the miner said in a statement.

Riversdale said last year it plans to start producing coal at Benga this year, and aims to start exporting the mineral in the last quarter of 2010.

Its study envisaged that 5.3 million tonnes of coal would be extracted each year in an initial phase expected to start this year, including 1.7 million tonnes of top quality hard coking coal and 300,000 tonnes of thermal coal for export.

Expansion to the second stage, by 2014, will raise production to 10.6 million tonnes a year, of which 3.3 million tonnes will be coking coal and 2 million tonnes thermal coal for export.

It said the third stage, which has an open time frame, will almost double production to 20 million tonnes a year.

The Australian firm holds a 65% stake in the project, and India’s Tata Steel (TISC.BO) owns the rest. (Reporting by Muchena Zigomo)