According to an Assessment Report by the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science (DES), Clive Palmer’s Central Queensland Coal Project poses a number of unacceptable risks and is not suitable to proceed.
Clive Palmer’s Central Queensland Coal Project (previously named the Styx coal project) is proposed to be located approximately 130 kilometres northwest of Rockhampton and roughly 25 kilometres northwest of Marlborough.
It would involve the construction and operation of a greenfield, open-cut coal mine extracting up to 10 million tonnes per year of product thermal and coking coal.
The project is expected to employ a workforce of up to 222 people during its initial two year construction period and approximately 500 people during operations.
Following an analysis of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the DES found that the project poses a number of unacceptable risks primarily due to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area, the Broad Sound Fish Habitat Area, Tooloombah Creek, Deep Creek, the Styx River Estuary, and nearby groundwater ecosystems.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said the assessment shows that the DES has ‘listened to advice from expert scientists and the wishes of the community to reject the mine’.
“We are relieved the Queensland Department of Environment and Science has listened to the warnings from expert scientists that building a huge open cut coal mine so close to our Reef would cause serious and irreversible damage to a variety of important habitats, including important turtle and dugong strongholds,” said AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaigner, David Cazzulino.
“These Federal Government-appointed experts warned that they ‘cannot envisage any feasible mitigation measures, including offsets, that could safeguard these irreplaceable and internationally significant ecological assets’,” he said.
The decision comes amid strong community opposition to the mine. Hundreds attended protests in Mackay, Yeppoon and Brisbane recently, and more than 12,000 people have signed a petition calling for the mine to be rejected.
The Assessment Report recommendation is not the final decision for the project. The final decision for approval now rests with the Federal Minister for the Environment. The Minister has 30 business days to make a decision, unless further information is required.
The Assessment Report will also inform any State decision on Environmental Authority and Mining Lease applications.