A Queensland mineral producer received the nod to progress a new fossil fuel development in the Bowen Basin.
The Federal Government recently approved Bowen Coking Coal’s (BCB’s) Isaac River Coal Project, 130 km southwest of Mackay.
The Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water indicated it would support a proposed action that lets a mining lease be granted once land access agreements have been finalised.
“The Albanese government has to make decisions in accordance with the facts and the national environment law – that is what happens on every project, and that is what has happened here,” a spokesperson for Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said according to Deutsche Welle.
The proponent already has a Queensland environmental authority (EA), and other state approvals for its Isaac River progressive rehabilitation and closure plan. Isaac Regional Council earlier withdrew objections against both the EA and mining lease application. This suggests a mining lease could be granted before the end of 2023.
The project involves extracting an estimated 8.7 million tonnes (mt) of coal in accordance with the Australian Joint Ore Reserves Committee’s code. From this figure 8.3 mt is already classified in both “measured and indicated categories”.
Once construction is complete the operation will produce up to 0.6 mt per annum of coking coal over the course of four or five years.
“We are here to meet the growing demand for energy and steelmaking coal. We are confident that world steel and energy demand will continue its rapid growth, driven by ongoing industrialisation in the developing world,” BCB executive chairman Nick Jorss said in a public statement.
However, the Climate Council criticised authorities for not pausing new developments until the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is reformed.
“This decision takes us in entirely the wrong direction to protect Australians from the worsening effects of dangerous climate change,” council head of advocacy Jennifer Rayner said in a public statement.
“The environment minister has a responsibility to scrutinise all risks of harm to the environment, and it is irresponsible that she has refused to look at the immense and indisputable climate harm.”
Climate change is an environmental theory that burning fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide emissions, which can influence long-term weather patterns.