Central Queensland Landholders Object to New Mine

Published: February 19, 2013

Central Queensland landholders will this week lodge objections to the Alpha mine, the first of a string of nine 'mega mines' proposed for the Galilee Basin in Western Central Queensland.

Ellie Smith, spokesperson for Lock the Gate Alliance, said a number of landholders had indicated that they would be objecting to the mine.

"Understandably their biggest anxiety is the fate of future water supply. The groundwater modeling undertaken by GVK/Hancock is insufficient. Locals know groundwater fluctuates within and between seasons. To establish credible baseline data entails years of monitoring levels and testing for quality," said Ms Smith.

The Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Developments shares these concerns, its recommendations to the Federal Government, released after the approval include:

  • further details of the measured hydrogeological data, and groundwater model parameters, uncertainties, confidence and transparency
  • A regional cumulative impact assessment should be undertaken as a matter of priority.

It states: “Given the pending development scenarios, the committee advises that the cumulative surface and groundwater impacts in the region have not been assessed. Based on the limited information presented, in particular, on cumulative impacts, the committee has considerable concerns relating to the scale and extent of impacts associated with the project.”

“The Federal and State Governments have ignored the advice of the Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Developments so it’s now up to landholders to ensure the courts enforce appropriate protection of our water resources,” said Ms Smith.

“With nine mega mines proposed for the region it is vitally important that full cumulative impact assessments are completed. It’s absurd to enter into projects of this extent with such scant knowledge," she said.

According to GVK predictions, neighbours of the proposed mining lease can expect a 10 meter drawdown in groundwater levels.

"Evidence from the Bowen Basin shows that groundwater modelling can be very unreliable and the actual impacts of groundwater drawdown can be disastrous. In this groundwater dependent community that's make or break for a family's livelihood," said Ms Smith.

"Landholders should ensure GVK/Hancock give them written legal guarantees that they won't be left without access to water. 'Make Good' arrangements are standard practice in the Bowen Basin but many landholders around the Alpha mine have not been approached and groundwater baseline studies haven't been done adequately.

“We are very concerned that many landholders are unaware of their right to object to the Mining Lease and the Environmental Authority. Many are still unaware of the Wednesday deadline.

“Hancock Coal quietly posted the notice of their application for a Mining Lease on the 19th of December, but as far as we’re aware they haven’t contacted any affected landholders directly," she said.

Objections to the Alpha mine are due on Wednesday the 20th February and will be heard in the landcourt in March 2013.

 

Note:

Full advice from the Interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Developments on the Alpha Project can be found here: 

http://www.environment.gov.au/coal-seam-gas-mining/interim-committee/pubs/iiesc-advice-alpha.pdf

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