Groundwater impacts of coal mining in the Galilee Basin
A new report released today [PDF 4MB], raises alarm bells about the potentially devastating impacts on groundwater resources from 9 proposed new 'mega' coal mines in the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland. This report is the first to attempt an assessment of the likely cumulative impacts of all 9 mine proposals.
The report finds that:
- The mines will comprise over 34 open cut pits and 11 underground mines along a 270 kilometre north-south strike, to produce over 300 million tonnes of coal per annum.
- An estimated two and half 'Sydney Harbours' of groundwater, equating to 1,354 billion litres, could be lost as a result of water being pumped out or drained by the proposed mines.
- This will result in more than 400 water bores on adjoining properties being put at risk from groundwater drawdown, which provide water supplies for households and livestock, along with the townships of Alpha and Jericho.
- There is a potential risk of interference with the Great Artesian Basin through impacts on the layers that separate this nationally significant water source from the coal mines
- Recommendations by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee and the Qld Co-ordinator General to undertake a regional water balance model of the cumulative impacts of these mining proposals have not been implemented.
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The report “Draining the lifeblood: the impact of Galilee Basin coal mining on groundwater resources” exposes the failure of the Queensland and Federal Governments to assess the cumulative impacts of the mines or to heed warnings about the risk of impacts on the Great Artesian Basin. Both governments continue to approve the mega mines, one by one, despite the uncertainty.
The report was written in consultation with former senior Queensland government officer Tom Crothers, who served as the state’s General Manager of Water Planning and Allocation. See Tom Crothers explaining the findings and significance of the report here:
The first coal mine approved in the Basin, the Alpha mine, is currently being challenged by landholders in the Qld land court. The second mine, Kevin's Corner, will be the first coal mine in Australia assessed under the new federal Environmental Protection “water trigger,” with a decision due on the 30th of October.
The report was commissioned by Lock the Gate Alliance and written in consultation with Mr Crothers.
Write to the new environment minister Greg Hunt today to tell him to protect our precious water resources
Help us create a twitter storm with the #tag #GalileeBasin. Click the (twitter icon) next to the text to tweet (must be signed into your existing twitter account).
@GregHuntMP don't drain the lifeblood from Central Queensland - Stop the clock on #GalileeBasin #coal approvals. http://bit.ly/1abVwu7
9 mining leases in the as-yet-untapped #GalileeBasin stretch 270km. That's the length of SE QLD http://flic.kr/p/g2Mz16
#GalileeBasin mines would drain ~1,354 billion litres of groundwater. That's 2.5 times the volume of Sydney Harbour http://flic.kr/p/g2NEek
New report: Great Artesian Basin at risk from proposed #coal mines in the #GalileeBasin. #auspol #water http://bit.ly/1abVwu7
@AndrewCrippsMP when will the QLD govt begin studies on cumulative impacts of mining proposals in the #GalileeBasin? http://bit.ly/1abVwu7
#GalileeBasin mines would drain ~1,354 billion litres of groundwater. Enough water for 37 million cattle. http://flic.kr/p/g4ec2w
At their peak, 9 mines in the #GalileeBasin would use 4 times the amount of water drunk by all Australians EVERY DAY http://flic.kr/p/g4edK9
Join us in calling for the Queensland and Federal Governments to suspend approval of coal mines in the Galilee Basin until a proper assessment of the cumulative impact on water resources of the region has been undertaken. Tell them we shouldn't be draining the lifeblood and putting farming communities at risk.
Send a message to federal environment minister, Greg Hunt MP via facebook by commenting on one of his posts here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Greg-Hunt-MP/430449423672955?fref=ts
Send a message to Queensland state resources minister Andrew Cripps MP via facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/AndrewCrippsMP?fref=ts
Call or write to federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, to tell him to stop the clock on approvals of mines in the Galilee Basin until recommended water studies have been completed.
Phone: (03) 5979 3188 or (02) 6277 2276
Call or write to state resources minister, Andrew Cripps, to tell him to begin work on a regional water balance model for the Galilee Basin before any more mines are approved.
Phone: (07) 3225 1861 or (07) 4776 1428
Keep the story going...
Help us keep this issue in the media by responding to media reports with letters to the editor. Remember to include your name, where you're from and your phone number.
We will be hosting two info sessions in the Galilee Basin in November to share information with affected landholders. If you are from the region please help us spread the word. Click below for more information and to RSVP.