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Galilee Basin is too frail and precious ecologically to handle coal mining

Guess who wants to destroy part of Queensland's heritage to satisfy their own greed?

“Federal Minister Tony Burke has tinkered around the edges as usual in setting conditions for the Alpha Coal Mine approval. The Galilee Basin is too frail ecologically to handle coal mining at the scales planned. Cumulative impacts from the high number of mega coal mines proposed for this coal basin have not been addressed by any form of strategic assessment.

“It is just a matter of time before a large flood flows through this mine and pollutes downstream as far as the Burdekin Dam, a water supply source that has enabled the growth of Townsville.

“Certainly this means the end of the endangered black-throated finch and other threatened arboreal species such as the koala in this region because of the thousands of hectares of regional ecosystems that will be cleared. Add to that the destruction from the Galilee Infrastructure Corridor Project which will run from Abbot Point to along the Belyando River in the Galilee Basin, and cumulative impacts will greatly degrade the environmental and community values of the Galilee Basin.

“The concept of offsets to mitigate damage does not work for a region that will be totally mined. It is nonsense to try to offset offsets or set aside isolated “core areas” in which to put offsets for species with limited ranges. It may be convenient for the mining companies but it does not work for the benefit of biodiversity.

“Threatened species such as the koala, squatter pigeon, ornamental snake, black-chinned honeyeater, cotton pygmy goose, black-necked stork, black-chinned honeyeater, ornamental snake and little pied bat are the most threatened of at least 21 threatened fauna species within the proposed Galilee Infrastructure Corridor. There are also 17 threatened plant species within that corridor. Most of these species are likely to be within the Alpha mine footprint.

“Baseline monitoring to identify all threatened species within this basin which is a national hotspot for biodiversity is vastly inadequate. Volunteer bird watchers found more species in a few short surveys than have the mining company’s ecological consultants over the many years this mine has been planned.

“The time for management plans for endangered species in this region such as the black-throated finch was well before now. The federal government has dragged its feet on researching and implementing such management plans despite knowing that there have been plans to mine the Galilee Basin for decades.

“This is a region where less than 2% is in protected areas such as National Parks which have only a low level of representation of the region’s ecosystems. Some of those protected areas are Nature Refuges which have no protection from mining.

“The contribution to world greenhouse gases and global warming from this and other coal mines planned for the Galilee Basin I estimate will be 16-18%, enough to contribute indirectly to impacts on the Great Barrier Reef through increased acidity and water temperatures. T

“The federal government has acquiesced in the Queensland government’s plan to make the Galilee Basin a national sacrifice area for Australia, as it will never be successfully rehabilitated. Nothing has been learned from what has happened to the mining of the Bowen Coal Basin to the east. All this is for a very small contribution to the nation’s economy and workforce for a relatively short time.”

Patricia Julien
Mackay Conservation Group
e: pafjulien@hotmail.com

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