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Baralaba South coal mine bites the dust: Central QLD community celebrates hard won victory

A Central Queensland community is celebrating after the company behind the Baralaba South coal mine proposal chose not to submit its Environmental Impact Statement by today’s deadline, effectively putting an end to the project and a decade long David vs Goliath battle.

Baralaba locals are now calling on the Queensland Palaszczuk Government to rule out ever allowing a new mining proposal in the same location as the now dead coal project, which would have been built on prime agricultural land, 500m from the Dawson River - a river that supplies drinking water to two towns.

Even if project proponent - USA insurance behemoth Liberty Mutual - wanted to revisit the coal mine, it would have to start from scratch, adding many more years before the coal mine could begin producing. It would also mean new Queensland Government rehabilitation laws would apply, requiring backfilling of voids on the floodplain, significantly increasing the cost of the mine to the point the project would likely be unviable.

Baralaba grazier and Save the Dawson chairman Brett Coombe said, “This is a win for the environment, the farmers, the graziers - we have a really good connection to the country we work and live on and we want to keep it the way it is.

“We now have surety for the future - we know where we’re going. We can look after the environment here and keep it going for generations ahead.

“This is the best news we could have hoped for.”

Save the Dawson group member Paul Stephenson said, “This is a tribute to the dedicated work of our local community organisation and supporters around Australia who have helped us in this fight to protect our land, water, and future.

“A decade-long battle has been won today.

“Liberty Mutual has made the right decision by deciding not to lodge an EIS for this strongly opposed, polluting coal project.

“The appropriate thing for Liberty Mutual to do now is to withdraw its application entirely, and relinquish the tenements. We’d then like to see the Palaszczuk Government permanently rule out any future projects that would destroy prime agricultural land and threaten the Dawson River like Baralaba South would have done.

“This proposal, on prime agricultural land, 500 metres from a river that supplies drinking water to two Baralaba and Woorabinda was totally inappropriate.This mine would not have served anybody’s best interests – not the community, our environment, or even the company itself.

“We need legislation that will protect Queensland communities from disastrous proposals like this.”

Recent timeline: 

  • June, 2020: Liberty Mutual came under fire for refusing to insure Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, while progressing with plans for a coal mine south of Baralaba.

  • January, 2021: Liberty Mutual was labelled a hypocrite for signing up to a United Nations backed program that encouraged sustainable and ethical investment while continuing to progress the Baralaba South coal mine.

Further background:

  • Baralaba South proposal was a greenfield, multi-seam, open-cut coal mine, that would have produced up to 5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of run-of-mine coal for 30-40 years.

  • The mine’s location would have been approximately 12km south of Baralaba, between Mt Ramsay and the Dawson River within a Mining Lease of 2 214 hectares which covers strategic cropping land. The mine was planned to be built 500m from the Dawson River on a floodplain where the river spreads to 11km wide during floods.

  • The project would have required 900 million litres of water per annum, for washing coal, dust suppression and other mine activities.

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