The decision to approve the Whitehaven project is a significant boost for the company because the project is adjacent to the Daunia coal mine which it recently bought from the BMA joint venture.
Whitehaven said there was potential synergies between the two including the potential integration of operations.
About 500 jobs would be created in construction and another 500 in operation. About 11 million tonnes of metallurgical and thermal coal would be mined each year for 28 years
About 7000 ha of land would be “disturbed” by the development and six pits would be developed with only three backfilled and the others left as voids that were likely to be eventually filled with water.
While the approval is a boost for the company, Winchester South still needs EPBC approval from the Federal Government, as well as Environmental Authority and a mining lease from the State Government.
The approval comes just days after the State Government vetoed billionaire Clive Palmer’s plans for a coal mine and power station at Barcaldine, largely because of its climate change impacts and concerns over the lack of mitigation.
Palmer has already reportedly dropped plans to appeal a Land Court rejection of another coal mine in the Galilee Basin and earlier this year his plan for a coal mine near Rockhampton was also rejected by the Federal Government because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef as well as impacts to groundwater and creeks.
In making the Winchester South approval the co-ordinator general also made recommendations to the Federal Minister relating to habitat for koalas and other animals in the path of the mine.
Market Forces coal campaigner Michelle Surowiec said it was astounding the Queensland Government approved Winchester South “carbon bomb”.
The Queensland Conservation Council said it was a misguided decision and reckless and contradictory when Palmer’s rejection was made just a few days earlier.
Lock the Gate Alliance national co-ordinator Ellen Roberts said the Land Court decided new coal mines violated the rights of young people because of the threat of climate change and the decision made by the co-ordinator general showed the Palaszczuk Government thought the youth of Queensland didn’t deserve a liveable future.
She pointed to Whitehaven’s environmental breaches in NSW.
“It was found guilty of stealing water at the height of the worst drought in living memory, it has illegally cleared bushland, contaminated local waterways, and disturbed Aboriginal artefacts,” she said.
“Whitehaven sees breaking the law as part of doing business in NSW, and we have no reason to believe it will behave any differently in Queensland.”