Farmers and local landholders are taking their objections to Clive Palmer’s massive proposed Galilee Basin coal mine to the Queensland Land Court, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office.
Waratah Coal’s Galilee Coal Project, formerly known as China First, is a huge thermal coal mine which would destroy sustainable grazing land within the 8000-hectare Bimblebox Nature Refuge.
The Environmental Defenders Office, acting for the Bimblebox Alliance Inc, has filed an objection to the mine on several grounds under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and Mineral Resources Act 1989 on the basis it would cause irreversible environmental damage and unacceptable impacts to local agriculture.
“Our client has filed legal challenges over the Environmental Authority and Mining Lease applications for Waratah Coal’s Galilee Coal Project – an open-cut thermal coal mine which would devastate the land our client protects,” said David Morris, CEO of the Environmental Defenders Office.
“On their behalf, we will argue the Environmental Authority application should be refused on 11 grounds – including that approval would cause environmental harm and would not be consistent with the core objectives of ecologically sustainable development.”
“We will also argue that the Mining Lease application should be refused on 12 grounds, including that there will be significant adverse environmental, social and economic impacts caused by this project and its operations.”
David Morris continued: “Waratah Coal clearly has not given sufficient consideration to the impact this project will have on local farmers and the unique Bimblebox Nature Refuge.
“The project consists of two open-cut pits and four underground mines that will totally destroy roughly 50% of the Nature Refuge and cut underneath the remainder, leaving it in ruins.
“It will have a huge impact on local graziers and destroy a private conservation reserve that is one of the largest tracts of intact woodland in Queensland and home to hundreds of species, many of which are rare or endangered.
“Those impacts are unacceptable to our client and the community.
“The decision to take a large mining company like Waratah Coal to court is never an easy one, but farmers and other people have a right to protect their soil, air and water. This coal mine would threaten all of that and leave a legacy of destruction for the community.”
“Bimblebox is an exceptional example of how sustainable agriculture and conservation can co-exist. They are helping preserve an important un-industrialised part of the Australian landscape, vital ecosystems and culture of the region for future generations. All that would be swept away if this short-sighted proposal ultimately proceeds,” David Morris concluded.
Under the proposal from Waratah Coal Pty Ltd, roughly 50% of the 8000-hectare Bimblebox Nature Refuge would undergo large-scale clearing for an open-cut coal mine. Most of the remainder would be underlain by underground mining and therefore subject to subsidence.
Bimblebox Nature Refuge, 500km west of Rockhampton and 30km north west of Alpha, consists of 95% uncleared semi-arid woodlands.
It is home to a number of threatened and significant species among its rich diversity of birds, reptiles and other animals. For example, it is habitat for the endangered Black-throated Finch, the vulnerable Squatter Pigeon and the Near Threatened Black-chinned Honey Eater and Black-necked Stork.
The proposed mine would produce 40 million tonnes per annum of thermal coal over a life of 25-30 years, generating around 2.9 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, inconsistent with the aims of the Paris Agreement to constrain climate change.