NEW REPORT: 1,350 BILLION LITRES OF GROUNDWATER — 2 ½ SYDNEY HARBOURS — COULD BE LOST TO QLD MEGA COAL MINES

Published: September 24, 2013

A new report released today, written in consultation with former senior Queensland government officer Tom Crothers, who served as the state’s General Manager of Water Planning and Allocation, raises alarm bells on the potentially devastating cumulative impacts on the region’s groundwater resources  from 9 proposed new  mega coal mines in the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland.

A new report released today, written in consultation with former senior Queensland government officer Tom Crothers, who served as the state’s General Manager of Water Planning and Allocation, raises alarm bells on the potentially devastating cumulative impacts on the region’s groundwater resources  from 9 proposed new  mega coal mines in the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland.

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 the livestock and household supplies from more than 400 water bores on adjoining properties being put at risk from groundwater drawdown, 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.

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.


"I have grave concerns about the potential  impacts of the proposal mines in the Galilee Basin on the region’s groundwater supplies. Not only do they put the Great Artesian Basin recharge zone at some risk, but the groundwater dependent communities of Alpha, Jericho and the grazing properties surrounding the proposed mine leases  are also threatened" said Tom Crothers.

"The impact assessments undertaken by the mine proponents and the Queensland Government are inadequate and I fully support the report's conclusion that further mining approvals should be suspended until the recommended water studies and transparent co-ordinated planning have been completed", Mr Crothers concluded.

“Our communities in Central Queensland depend on groundwater - it's our lifeblood.  The coal companies and our governments are treating us with contempt by rushing ahead to develop these damaging mines without even quantifying the true risk to the region’s water resources" said Ellie Smith, Central Queensland co-ordinator with the Lock the Gate Alliance.

"Given the dramatic risks that have been exposed by this report, we're calling on the new Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, to intervene urgently to prevent any further coal mine approvals in the region until the recommended water studies have been completed" she said.

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 30 October.

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