Lock the Gate Alliance welcomes news the ill-conceived Fox Resources plan for a coal mine on productive farming land near Bundaberg is unlikely to proceed, and says it is the latest evidence of a shift away from opening new land to coal in Australia.
According to local Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith and Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett, Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart has handed down a preliminary view that the project, that would have been built on Mineral Development Licence 3040, is not in the public interest.
The decision follows a hard-fought grassroots campaign, with the local community raising concerns about the impact the mine would have had on local water supplies, the nationally-important foodbowl surrounding Bundaberg, and the nearby World Heritage Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The move also comes just days after NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole told budget estimates he opposed releasing large parcels of land near the Blue Mountains to new coal mining, after it was previously flagged by former Deputy Premier John Barilaro for exploration.
“To see these potential coal projects knocked on the head at such an early stage would have been unthinkable just five years ago,” said Lock the Gate Alliance national director Carmel Flint.
“While our governments still have a long way to go, it’s positive that at the early exploration stages, coal mining companies are finding it hard to get the green light to destroy more land and water.
“The local community in the Bundaberg region has led the way and its determination to protect this important area from coal exploration has been extraordinary.
“We congratulate the Queensland Resources Minister on making this preliminary decision in the public interest, and we’d like to see a final decision to end this threat once and for all.
“What we need now is proper planning legislation to prevent new coal and gas projects that harm land, water and the climate, rather than communities having to fight region by region and project by project.
“A mineral development licence should never have been available over a food bowl and so close to one of the world’s natural wonders.
“We also need governments to help coal dependent communities prepare for a future where Australia ultimately exports less coal than it does now.
“With foresight and planning, there is every reason to believe these communities and the economies built around coal mining can embrace new clean industries and become even stronger as the world decarbonises.”