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WOAH THERE ALBO: Federal Government urged to rein in coal mine approvals on BHP’s Caval Ridge Horse Pit

The Albanese Government must not approve BMA’s latest Central Queensland coal mine project because it would leave a massive, unfilled pit void on the landscape, further imperil threatened species, and contribute 473 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into an already overheated atmosphere.

The federal public submission period in response to BMA’s Caval Ridge Horse Pit extension project closes today (Friday September 29).

If built, the Caval Ridge extension would allow BMA to:

  • Mine 15 million tonnes of coal each year until 2055 - 20 years beyond the mine’s current lifespan.

  • Leave a 545 hectare coal pit, meaning the majority of disturbed land will not be rehabilitated at all.

  • Clear important native vegetation that supports threatened species like the ornamental snake, squatter pigeon, and king bluegrass.

  • Release mine-affected water into Cherwell Creek, posing a risk to surrounding waterways which are home to the critically endangered white-throated snapping turtle and the vulnerable Fitzroy River turtle, both colloquially known as “bum breathers”. 

The project is also part of the “Living Wonders” legal challenge, meaning if Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek gives it the go ahead, she could wind up back in court defending her decision, as she was last week concerning the Mount Pleasant and Narrabri Underground coal projects.                    

Bizarrely, The federal environment department walked back on a request for BMA to provide information about emissions and coal type (See page 11 point 10 here), allowing the coal mine to proceed with assessment without any details on how emissions will be managed (See page 8 point 10 here).

The Queensland Palaszczuk Government gave state approval to the project earlier this month. Despite the damage the extension will cause, BMA was not required to submit an environmental impact statement to the QLD Government.

Environmental Advocacy in Central Queensland director Dr Coral Rowston urged Minister Plibersek to listen to science and reason when determining the future of the Caval Ridge project.

“This week we have heard stark reminders from the United Nations and International Energy Agency about the climate crisis driven perils the world faces if governments continue to allow new and expanding fossil fuel projects.

“Even if the Albanese Government wishes to ignore the increasingly dire state of the global climate, and coal’s leading contribution to it, they must surely recognise that this is a coal project that does not stack up at a local environment level.

“BMA plans to leave a giant hole in the ground which will fill with toxic, contaminated water that will pollute the local environment in perpetuity.

“Meanwhile, land clearing associated with this project will mean species like the ornamental snake, the squatter pigeon, and king bluegrass are pushed closer to the point of no return.”

Mackay Conservation Group climate campaigner, Imogen Lindenberg, said BHP’s aggressive Caval Ridge expansion plan proved its threats to pause new projects in response to the Queensland Government’s modest coal royalties increase was all for show.

“BHP is progressing plans to expand its coal projects in Queensland against all scientific advice that shows the world needs to urgently stop the mining and burning of fossil fuels to ensure a safe climate.

“The company made an eye watering $12.9 billion profit last financial year. Its public outburst in response to the Queensland Government's modest coal royalties increase was always just a political strategy and appears to have done nothing to deter the mining giant from wanting to dig more polluting coal in the Sunshine State.”


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