China Stone mine “economically unviable”

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As submissions for the China Stone project closed yesterday, the Lock the Gate Alliance said the State Government should not approve the proposed coal mine because it is economically unviable and would impact water supplies and further endanger threatened species.

Lock the Gate spokesperson, Paul Winn said the proponent MacMines Austasia, was planning the largest coal mine in Australia that would operate for 50 years, in an already seriously depressed world market for thermal coal.

The mine, proposed for the northern end of the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland, would extract and export 38 million tonnes of thermal coal a year for 50 years. In that process, 56 water bores may be affected and the Galilee Basin would be dewatered.

Mr Winn said MacMines proposed clearing 11,000ha of remnant vegetation, most of it threatened species’ habitat.

“Of great concern is the project’s unacceptable impact on the exceptional ecological values of the Doongmabulla Springs Complex and the Black-throated finch and the failure of the EIS to adequately assess the project’s impacts, severally and cumulatively, on these Matters of National Environmental Significance,” he said.

“The lack of rail access to the Abbott Point coal export terminal and the very large water supply deficit of up to half of the project’s water demand, coupled with the proponent’s apparent unwillingness to develop the required infrastructure, suggests that the proponent does not have the necessary financial and technical capabilities to carry on mining operations under the proposed mining lease.

“Given the current unviability of the project due to the depressed thermal coal market resulting from structural oversupply, it is not a project that a responsible government should approve, and certainly not for a 50 year mine life.”

Mr Winn said the government, prior to any determination, should insist MacMines:

  • Undertake additional field data collection to assess the potential groundwater impacts on the Galilee Basin, Lake Buchanan, Doongmabulla Springs and groundwater dependent ecosystems south and west of the project boundary.
  • Undertake additional ecological surveys to determine the presence or otherwise of the threatened species.
  • Agree to backfilling of the mine void in line with world’s best practice.
  • Agree to construct or fund additional groundwater monitoring bores to properly assess on-going regional groundwater impacts.

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