On September 26, 2011, Waratah Coal finally released the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its ‘China First’ mine (otherwise known as the ‘Galilee Coal Project’). The EIS details a plan of destruction that would see an open-cut mine destroy more than half of Bimblebox Nature Refuge, and long-wall mining under the other half, resulting in subsidence and major interference with hydrology.
After years of silence and uncertainty, Waratah Coal has finally made it clear its ‘China First’ mine would entirely destroy the ecological integrity of Bimblebox Nature Refuge. The EIS claims that the mine “will not be viable without coal reserves under the [Nature Refuge]” (Executive Summary, p20). That means that either the ‘China First’ mine goes ahead or Bimblebox remains intact.
This is a significant case because it will set a precedent for other nature refuges subject to mining. In their support for mining on nature refuges, the State Government is shamefully abandoning conservation covenants they signed with landowners designed to protect the conservation values on these properties ‘in perpetuity’.
We call on everyone who supports the preservation of nature (and especially this isolated patch of intact arid ecology in a vast area of cleared grazing land) to make a submission to the government commenting on Waratah Coal’s EIS. Submissions must be in by the 19th December 2011 (the original deadline of 7th November has been extended for 6 weeks due to Waratah Coal failing to provide a complete EIS on their website).
‘The Tussle Between Energy and Ecology Moves to the Australian Outback’ by Andrew Revin, The New York Times, 23rd Nov
‘Rare bird fuels fight over mine’, AAP, The Age Business Day, 23rd Nov
‘Qld nature refuge owner bid to stop mining’ by Laura Harding, Trading Room, 22nd Nov
‘The future of Bimblebox’, interview with Steve Austin, 612 ABC Brisbane
‘Palmer’s mine plan abhorrent: Agforce‘ by By Amy Phillips and Chrissy Arthur, ABC News, 5th Nov
‘Backflip on land conservation agreement angers landholders’ by Amy Phillips, ABC Rural, 5th Nov
‘The finch that ate Clive…’ by Annabel Crabb, The Drum, ABC, 21st Oct
‘Anger as Palmer mine threatens nature refuge’ by Matt Wordsworth, ABC, 20th Oct
‘Waratah to wipe out Bimblebox’, Shift Miner Magazine, 28th Sept
‘$8.3b coal plan eats into nature refuge’ by Simon Green, Central Queensland News, 28th Sept
‘The mines are coming to quiet Alpha’ by Simon Green, Central Queensland News, 28th Sept
‘Waratah Coal Galilee Basin project’s mark on landscape ‘irreversible” by John McCarthy, Courier Mail, 27th Sept
Media release: ‘Waratah Coal EIS – nature refuge to be destroyed, bizarre offset strategy worthless’, Capricorn Conservation Council, 27th Sept