Lock the Gate Alliance has said they are “bitterly disappointed” by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s decision, released late on Friday, to approve a huge new coal mine in the Galilee Basin despite new laws designed to protect water resources from coal and CSG projects.
“The approval of Kevin’s Corner is a slap in the face to everyone who celebrated the passing of the “water trigger” legislation earlier this year. This was the Abbott Government’s opportunity to break with the past and actually move to get the balance right when it comes to protecting our precious water.” Said Ellie Smith, Central Queensland coordinator for the Lock the Gate Alliance.
300 people, including 13 scientists and experts in the field of water planning and management, have written to the minister in the past two weeks asking him to take his powers under the water trigger seriously and reject this mine.
The approval comes with over 70 conditions including a requirement to further study the groundwater flows in the region.
“Essentially Minister Hunt is admitting we don’t understand the flows and interconnectivity of groundwater in the region, asking the company to investigate further but giving approval anyway,” said Ms Smith
“Kevin’s Corner would butt right up to the Great Artesian Basin. The work to assess the risk of impacts on the GAB should have been done during the impact assessment process, now the process of meeting conditions will happen away from public scrutiny.
The approval is staged with the company needing sign off from the minister at each stage to progress to the next stage. The approval states that stage 1 is limited to:
Preconstruction surveying and technical assessment including geotechnical, establishment of site security arrangements (including signs, fences, safety barriers, and temporary security personnel facilities) and maintenance of existing roads and tracks.
“Despite this approval, GVK have a lot more work to do before they can begin mining at Kevin’s Corner, conditional approval of their Alpha Project was given by the federal government over a year ago, and yet no construction work has started on that project.
“The community will be watching their progress very closely. Water is the lifeblood of the cattle industry and communities of the Galilee Basin region and they won’t give it up without a fight”