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Proponent renews regulatory approvals for $6.4B Central Qld coal project

Waratah Coal
Waratah Coal

A mineral producer owned by Queensland’s richest man has requested an extension for its shelved $6.4 billion coal development in Central Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Waratah Coal is renewing its mining lease and environmental authority for its Galilee Coal Project, 450km west of Rockhampton.

35 year extension

A document lodged with the State Department of Natural Resources and Mines shows the proponent owned by Clive Palmer hopes to extend mining lease 70454 to explore coal for another 35 years. The project formerly called China First has been delayed since securing federal environmental approval back in the year 2013.

The project involves building a 453km railway line to Abbot Point as well as both open-cut and underground mines that could produce an estimated 40 million tonnes per annum of coal. This is estimated to be four times larger than Adani Australia’s Carmichael Coal Project, according to the Guardian.

5825 jobs

If work proceeds it will create 3500 construction jobs and 2325 operational positions. None of these jobs are advertised yet.

Proceeds from a successful legal action against China-based CITIC could be invested into constructing the project. Palmer previously indicated he may choose to build an underground sludge pipeline instead of the originally proposed 453km railway line.

“A pipeline is much more environmentally friendly, it’s underground, it could be powered by solar power on the surface, using renewable energy,” he told Fairfax Media in July.

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Legal battle

Lock the Gate Alliance member Paola Cassoni vows to oppose the project, particularly concerning its water impacts on the environment.

“The first of 26 boreholes was sunk on the [Bimblebox] Nature Reserve in 2008 but we locked our gates and stopped the extra 100 boreholes,” she said in a public statement. “We have submitted to the environmental impact statement (EIS) and voiced our concerns throughout the EIS process but, by making an objection to the land court, Waratah’s assertions about the impacts of the mine can finally be put to the test.”