Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche. Steve Gray

Coal mine fear

A COAL mining hub on the Central Highlands may still threaten more than 80 farms this week declared as being located in a “protected area” of the State’s best agricultural land.

But the State Government would not comment on whether the two coal mines at the centre of the protected area would be subject to legislation to be enacted later this year.

Minister for Environment Kate Jones announced the strategic cropping land (SCL) policy transitional arrangements this week, which mean any proposed mine in the protected area that does not already have its final “terms of reference” (ToR) for its environmental impact statement (EIS) approved, will need to address the policy.

But the two Bandanna Energy projects, which could reap a combined 530 megatonnes of coal, was yesterday in a grey area of the process.

The final decision could not only affect the coal explorer, but more than 80 farmers in the region, known as the “Golden Triangle”, between Springsure, Rolleston and Emerald.

More than 80 food producers in the area have fought for more than a year to have their land identified as the best quality agricultural land in the State.

The region was identified as part of the “central protection area”, which along with a “southern protection area” on the Darling Downs, represents 1.84 million hectares of the best food-growing land in the State.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said: “There are many projects with tens of millions of dollars already invested that have not been recognised.”

A government spokesman said even if the projects were allowed to proceed, Bandanna Energy would have to mitigate any impacts on SCL.

Bandanna Energy did not respond to calls yesterday.



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