The development of the Galilee Basin advanced a step today with the release of a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Abbot Point coal port project.
Speaking in Bowen where he met with local stakeholders, including council, business, and community representatives, State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the draft EIS was now available for public comment until 18 September.
“This is a milestone for the sustainable development of the Galilee Basin and the jobs and economic development it could deliver for Queenslanders,” he said.
“We’ve delivered on our election commitment to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the nationally significant Caley Valley Wetlands.
“We are putting dredged material on port land next to the existing terminal, and we are minimising impacts to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area by ruling out at-sea disposal.
“The community can now have its say on the draft EIS with around 2400 pages of detailed investigatory information and almost 150 commitments to protect the environment.”
Dr Lynham said the draft EIS would be available for comment until close of business on 18 September, allowing more than 20 business days for public consultation.
The proposed expansion of Abbot Point will boost its capacity to meet anticipated export demand from proposed Galilee Basin mining projects.
Dr Lynham said the government was holding to its commitment that this infrastructure would not be funded by taxpayers, as was planned under the previous LNP Government.
“Importantly, any expansion at the port will be at the cost of Galilee Basin developers, including Adani, not Queensland taxpayers,” he said.
“The Queensland Government will deliver a robust final EIS, which will include feedback from consultation, to the Commonwealth Government in early October.
“It’s then up to the Commonwealth Government, which has 40 business days to assess the EIS and deliver a final decision on the project.
“Work will only begin when environmental approvals have been received.
“We expect these works will create around 160 jobs for at peak construction.”
Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche said communities such as Townsville, Bowen, Mackay, Clermont, Emerald, Barcaldine and Alpha would welcome the fact that, despite the relentless campaign of the activists, the unlocking of the huge jobs potential of the Galilee coal basin is one step closer.
‘‘We congratulate the state government on producing a comprehensive draft EIS containing 150 commitments to the environment,” Mr Roche said.
“We fully expect though that the anti-coal activists will also look to game the legal system to delay this port development approval.”
In the activists’ handbook, Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom, the strategy around ports was clear:
“Our strategy is essentially to disrupt and delay key projects and infrastructure, while gradually eroding public and political support for the industry and continually building the power of the movement to win more… By disrupting and delaying key projects, we are likely to make at least some of them unviable.”
“We will lodge legal challenges to the approval of all of the major new coal ports, as well as key rail links, the mega mines and several other mines chosen for strategic campaign purposes.”
“It should be remembered that this is the third version of the Abbot Point dredging project to be provided to the Commonwealth for approval,” Mr Roche said.
“Even though they had received Commonwealth approval for another option, as good corporate citizens, and in the interests of a better environmental outcome, Adani agreed to the option of onshore disposal of the dredge material.
“In doing so, they have had to go through three approvals processes – and the associated further delays in securing the approvals needed to be able to finance the project.”