It’s likely to be the first time a coal mine in Queensland has been rejected by the department this late in the approval stage. Previously, if the department had a dim view of any project it would have been stalled and proponents told it would never get approval.
Palmer’s project would have been a 10 million tonnes a year project, but it is situated only 25km from Marlborough and close to the coast and the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Department of Environment and Science said that after a thorough analysis of the Environmental Impact Statement for the project, the report outlined the potential environmental, economic and social impacts it may have.
“In preparing the report, DES considered public submissions and advice from relevant agencies, including the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Independent Expert Scientific Committee,” the department said.
“The project poses a number of unacceptable risks primarily due to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area, the Broad Sound Fish Habitat Area, Tooloombah Creek, Deep Creek, the Styx River Estuary, and nearby groundwater ecosystems.”
However, the assessment report recommendation is not the final decision for the project.
The final decision for approval for Commonwealth matters such as the Great Barrier Reef now rests with Commonwealth Minister for the Environment who has 30 business days to make a decision, unless further information is required.
The report does, however, inform any state decision on Environmental Authority and Mining Lease applications.
The project would be located on freehold land –Mamelon Station–owned by the proponent that is currently used for cattle grazing and surrounded predominantly by other grazing properties.
The project area contains an estimated 206Mt measured resource, 38Mt indicated resource and 169Mt inferred resource.
The project had faced a damning assessment from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee in November last year.
It said the project posed a risk to several national and internationally recognised environmental assets.
The project was estimated to have an economic benefit to the Queensland economy of between $7.8 billion to $8.2 billion. Royalties were estimated to be approximately $703 million to $766 million.
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokeswoman Ellie Smith said it was clear from the beginning that the proposal was just too destructive to even be considered.
“This atrocious coal mine proposal would have wreaked havoc on the Reef and nearby coastal habitats, destroyed farm land, and bulldozed habitat for threatened species,” she said.
“We thank the department for following the scientific advice and rejecting this mine.”
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