The Queensland Government is sacrificing valuable agricultural land to the coal industry and has scrapped laws that once prevented this from happening.
The Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson, Ellie Smith said half of Queensland’s $766 million agricultural production in 2010 to 2011 came from the Central Highlands region.
Ms Smith said the government was threatening almost 26,000 hectares of that region’s ‘Class A’ agricultural land with six huge coal mines.
“The government claims that it wants to double food production while at the same time decimating our best cropping for mining,” she said. “This cannot be achieved if we continue to let the coal industry dictate policy and swallow up land in the Central Highlands cropping belt and other productive farming regions.”
There are already three large coal mines in the major cropping zone from Clermont down through Emerald and south to Rolleston in the Central Highlands – Rio Tinto’s Kestrel mine, the Gregory-Crinum mine and Glencore’s (formerly Xstrata’s) Rolleston mine.
Four large new projects are now proposed in this Central Highlands cropping zone including the Springsure Creek mine, the Teresa mine and an expansion of the Rolleston mine.
“The Central Queensland Agricultural Land Audit has identified the expansion of mining in the Central Highlands cropping zone as a significant threat to agriculture, but no action has been taken to prevent these mines going ahead,” Ms Smith said.
“Queensland does not have legislation that can prevent prime agricultural lands being swallowed up for mining.”
Comment on the Rolleston Expansion EIS closes on Wednesday, May 21. The project threatens an iconic area nestled in the foothills of sacred sandstone gorge country that includes Carnarvon Gorge and extremely productive cropping and cattle producing land. Multinational miner, Glencore plans six extra open cut pits and associated mine infrastructure that would increase total production to 19 million tonnes per year of thermal coal and increase the footprint of the mine by more than 5,000 hectares.
“This will destroy the land, the important waterways that run through it and its cultural heritage,” she said. “It's time to say ‘enough is enough’, mining our best quality agricultural land should not be allowed.”
The agricultural land audit can be found here.
Photos of the Rolleston mine and neighbouring areas affected by the expansion: