Fonterra is seeking consent to develop a new mine to ensure a cheaper coal supply to some of its Waikato operations.
Its subsidiary, Glencoal Energy, runs the Kopako 3 mine near Maramarua which is nearing the end of its working life.
Fonterra is going through the process to obtain consent for a new mine in the Mangatawhiri area, 40km north of Huntly.
The coal from the proposed mine will supply three of Fonterra's manufacturing sites in the Waikato region.
Fonterra national consents manager, Dave Wright, says the company can get coal cheaper using its own mine rather than going to state-owned Solid Energy.
Mr Wright says if consent is granted it would hope to have the new mine up and running by the middle of 2014.