Alliance seeks assurance on coal mines that threaten aquifers

Published: July 30, 2013

In the wake of recent changes to Federal environment laws designed to protect water resources from coal mining and coal seam gas development, the Lock the Gate Alliance has written to the Federal Government seeking information about three controversial Queensland coal developments which, it says, have not properly addressed their water impacts.

The Alliance says the three projects will be the first major tests of the operation of the new water resource amendments to Federal environment laws, and if the projects are allowed to proceed without any further study it will throw doubt over the value of the law changes.

The projects are Stanmore Coal’s The Range in the northern Darling Downs and Hancock Coal’s Kevin’s Corner and Waratah Coal’s China First proposals in Central Queensland. Each of these mines put Great Artesian Basin aquifers at risk, according to their environmental assessments, but information about that risk has not been sufficient to inform a decision by the Commonwealth.

Lock the Gate Darling Downs Coordinator, Shaun Murray, said, “The Minister has three weeks from today to determine which coal and gas projects will have the new water trigger added to their assessment process.

Lock the Gate Central Queensland Coordinator, Ellie Smith, said, “Lock the Gate has grave concerns that decisions are imminent on three key projects that stand to have irreversible impacts on water resources for generations to come. We have written to the Minister/Department seeking information about the approach the Commonwealth intends to take on these projects, given the profound matters at stake.

“We are currently completing work on a report exposing the cumulative impact of mining proposed for the Galilee Basin. This is work that Governments have repeatedly been advised to do, but have so far reneged on.

“We know that the water impacts of these mines will last for generations. Now that the Commonwealth has statutory responsibility to protect water resources from coal mines, we need to see decisions made that look at the price the community is being asked to pay for coal development in lost productivity, lost water and lost livelihoods.

Lock the Gate’s letter to the Commonwealth is available on request.

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