A COAL mine could be up and running in Bacchus Marsh by 2018 following positive results of a scoping study.
On Friday, mining partners Exergen and Mantle Mining announced the study found the project was economically viable and would generate substantial local employment.
The project would require an initial capital investment of $2 billion and a mine life of more than 25 years.
Exergen chief executive Trevor Bourne said the company planned to complete a feasibility study by the end of 2015.
If it delivers positive results, and subject to success at a Latrobe Valley 'pre-commercial demonstration facility', production could start in Bacchus Marsh in 2018.
The scoping study found the mine could generate an average of 900 direct construction jobs.
This would peak at 1300 in the Bacchus Marsh and Geelong areas, including 400 permanent jobs at the mine and 90 at a $70 million continuous hydro-thermal dewatering (CHTD) plant to be built in the Latrobe Valley.
But Moorabool Environmental Group's Deb Porter, a vocal opponent of the mine, questioned the relevance of the scoping study.
"My understanding is a scoping study is a conceptual plan, a hypothetical," she said.
"It has a poor level of accuracy as it's based on very limited and incomplete information.
"The community has strongly signalled to Exergen and Mantle that we don't want a new coal mine in Bacchus Marsh and will continue to fight to prevent this and its associated public health, environmental damage and decreased property values, to name a few of the issues.
"It's a very expensive project at $2 billion and it is difficult to believe it is economically viable when there are operational black coal mines in Queensland closing."
Mr Bourne said the study was a preliminary estimate based on limited information and more detailed analysis would be needed.
"This study has confirmed that the Bacchus Marsh coal project has the potential to be profitable and bring major economic gains to the local community and the state of Victoria.
"We are not talking about a token number of jobs but a very large number of well-paid permanent positions that would make a real difference to the local economy."
Mr Bourne said if the mine was approved, he hoped a "substantial proportion" of jobs would go to local people with the necessary skills.