On Friday 9th August, Queensland’s Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney released this press release announcing that the Coordinator General has approved the proposed mine that will destroy Bimblebox Nature Refuge (known as the Galilee Coal Project or the China First Project). This is certainly not the end of the line…
The destructive proposal still has to receive an assessment from the Federal Government, expected in the next several months. The company also has to apply for a Mining Licence, at which stage the public can lodge objections to be heard in the Queensland Land Court.
We are not going to sit idle if or when precious conservation areas are dug up for coal. On signing the conservation agreements with both State and Federal Governments ten years ago we promised to protect Bimblebox in perpetuity, and that’s what we intend to do.
We only found out about the Queensland government’s decision to allow mining on Bimblebox through the media. It is indicative of the contempt that has been shown to landholders throughout this process.
China First is not the only project proposed for the region… the multiple mega coal mines proposed for the Galilee Basin warrant a full independent assessment of the cumulative impacts. There will not only be significant repercussions for biodiversity, but for our vital groundwater resources. There are now calls for a public inquiry into these multiple mega developments that will threaten the future of our region, as well as jeopardise the health of the Great Barrier Reef and the global climate. At the moment these mines are being approved one by one without any due regard for the cumulative impact!
The GVK/Hancock Alpha Coal Project was the first, and so far the only one in the Galilee Basin to receive approval from State and Federal governments. Some landholders in the region (including Paola) are now in the Land Court trying to ensure there is some independent scrutiny applied to this project, especially in relation to the groundwater, as we are bore dependent. We think the Coordinator General should respect the Land Court’s time frame and allow for the findings of the hydrological impacts to be heard before he throws out approvals like confetti. What’s the rush? What’s wrong with adequately understanding the likely and potential impacts in the bioregion? We may finish up with a mess no amount of tax-payer’s money can fix.
The Coordinator General again confirmed in his report on China First that more than half of Bimblebox would be cleared to make room for this mine, and the remainder would likely to be subject to subsidence from underground mining. So, if this mine goes ahead, we can say goodbye to the high conservation values of Bimblebox. That includes all the significant species, but more importantly to us, it is the total web of life that exists here – literally hundreds of plant and animal species, that have this rare, large, intact, healthy refuge to exist in. We have been dedicated to this nature refuge ever since we became involved with it over ten years ago. But the Coordinator General has not factored that in when making his decision – it seems he does not understand that good land management requires commitment and hard work by the people on the ground. His decision sends a resoundingly negative message to other landholders across Queensland who are similarly trying to do their bit for the environment.
Before she lost office Anna Bligh promised to protect Bimblebox and other high value conservation areas from mining, and the LNP agreed that “coal mining development will not be allowed in areas of high conservation value” (see below). We must hold our governments to account.