The first hearing of a legal challenge against the proposed Colton open-cut coal mine, near Maryborough, will be held today in the Brisbane Land Court, as a local community group takes on New Hope Coal with a focus on risks to the Great Sandy Strait.
The objections by the Aldershot and District Against Mining Group relate to proposed discharge of untreated waste water from the mine into the Mary River, upstream of the Great Sandy Strait, as well impacts on the health and well-being of the local community.
Brian Linforth, spokesperson for Aldershot and District Against Mining, said "Our local group lodged the objection against the Colton coal mine almost 2 years ago because of our grave concerns about the impacts of the mine on our local community".
"Today we are very pleased that the matter will finally be heard in the Brisbane Land Court, with experts presenting their evidence on matters such as air quality, noise and water pollution.
“The proposed coal mine is located just over 2km from our village of our Aldershot, and we are concerned about the impacts of dangerous coal dust particles on our health and on the tank water which we rely on for drinking.
“We’re also very concerned about the increased noise levels associated with the mining operations.
"There are over 1042 residents in Aldershot whose health, property values and well-being are all under threat because of this risky coal mining venture" he said.
Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate Alliance said "It’s not just the Aldershot village at risk - all Queenslanders stand to lose from this ill-considered proposal by the mine proponents to dump untreated waste water from the Colton mine into the iconic Mary River.
"The extraordinary tourist attractions of Fraser Island and the Great Sandy Strait should not be a dumping ground for the mining industry.
"This mine proposal shows a complete disregard for the internationally significant wetlands and coastlines of the Wide Bay region, and the international attraction they present to tourists from around the world"
“Earlier this year the Palaszczuk Government announced funding to progress the nomination of the Great Sandy Straits as a World Heritage site, but allowing Colton coal mine to pollute the Mary River upstream will put that process in jeopardy” he said.
Attachment 1: Background Briefing on the Colton Coal Mine
- The proposed Colton Coal mine is planned for construction just 11km north of the major coastal centre of Maryborough and 20km west of Hervey Bay, in the Wide Bay Burnett region.
- The Colton mine is a proposal for a 0.5Mtpa open cut coal mine to operate for ten years. The mine will be dug on public land in an important biodiversity corridor.
- The township of Aldershot is located just over 2km from the proposed open cut mine site.
- The local community is concerned about air quality from dangerous dust pollutants and from potential contamination of their rainwater drinking tanks.
- The mine proposes to allow untreated mine water to be discharged directly into the Mary River, only 15km upstream of the river mouth and the Fraser Coast.
- The discharge will include water contaminated with a range of heavy metals, including selenium and cadmium
- The proposed discharge is upstream of both the internationally significant Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland and the Great Sandy Strait Marine Park.
- The Great Sandy Straits are nursery grounds for the rich diverse sea life that is the backbone of the regional tourist economy, and is also a vital summer stopover for migratory birds from the northern hemisphere.
- The Colton coal mine is owned by New Hope Coal, who along with associated companies, donated over $1.3 million to the Liberal and National Parties at a state and Federal level from 2010 to 2015.
- The mine, if it proceeds, would be the first modern open-cut coal mine in the Maryborough Coal Basin.