A comprehensive survey carried out in Baralaba by Save the Dawson community group, revealed more than 97 per cent of locals opposed the proposed Baralaba South coal mine. Picture of the Baralaba North Mine. Pictures: Cockatoo Mines
A comprehensive survey carried out in Baralaba by Save the Dawson community group, revealed more than 97 per cent of locals opposed the proposed Baralaba South coal mine. Picture of the Baralaba North Mine. Pictures: Cockatoo Mines

Community ‘strongly opposes’ proposed CQ mining project

A PROPOSED mine site in Central Queensland has been met with stiff resistance from surrounding communities, Lock the Gate Alliance claims.

A comprehensive survey carried out in Baralaba (150km south west of Rockhampton) by Save the Dawson community group, revealed more than 97 per cent of locals surveyed opposed the proposed Baralaba South coal mine.

Jess Bidgood, whose family runs an organic beef farm next to the proposed mine site, said the survey results sent an unequivocal message.

“The community has spoken and they’re opposed to this project. They’re opposed to mining on strategic cropping land and they’re opposed to Baralaba South.”

Mount Ramsay Coal Company, which is 100 per cent owned by American insurance behemoth Liberty Mutual, wants to build the Baralaba South coal mine on prime agricultural land, mapped as Strategic Cropping Land, on the flood plains of the Dawson River and 12km from Baralaba itself.

The company faces strong opposition from the Baralaba community, with the survey showing

97.2 per cent of respondents oppose the mine, with 99.6 per cent in favour of reforms to better protect strategic cropping land in Queensland.

Baralaba North Mine. Picture: Cockatoo Mines
Baralaba North Mine. Picture: Cockatoo Mines

If the mine proceeds, Baralaba residents claim it would permanently destroy thousands of acres of prime agricultural land and lead to severe flooding of surrounding highly productive crop-farming areas and homes due to giant flood levee banks diverting floodwaters of the Dawson River.

Residents claim the mine would deplete and pollute water relied on for irrigation and stockwater, potentially lead to permanent contamination of the drinking water supplies for the towns of Baralaba and the Woorabinda Aboriginal community and cause a wide range of other direct impacts including air pollution, excessive noise, and an increased risk of fatalities on local roads.

The project proposes to use 110-tonne, quad-trailer coal haul trucks, passing every three to six minutes, 24hrs a day on a local road, used by school children on the school bus and passing near farmers’ homes.

Save the Dawson group chairman and Baralaba grazier Brett Coombe said a coal mine should never be allowed on a flood plain, “it just shouldn’t happen”.

“Especially on prime agricultural land – we’re not going to get any more of this – the prime agricultural land that we’ve got in the world today is all we’re ever going to have,” he said.

“We’ve got to look after it because we want it to be here for the next thousand years for our kids and our great grandkids and that’s not going to happen if we keep mining on flood plains.”

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Mr Coombe said as an ambassador looking after the land, he had a responsibility to make sure the water that went into the river was as good as it could be, because eventually it flows into the reef.

Douglas Graham, director of the Woorabinda Indigenous Knowledge Learning Centre, said he hadn’t been consulted about anything to do with the water usage.

“I’m thinking about the dry years as well, because last year was pretty dry,” he said.

“If the river goes below 3.5m we don’t get anything here.

“So that’s the impact that water has on a dry season. And just imagine that dry season with what the mine wants to take out the same year.”

The proposed Baralaba South project would be a greenfield, multi-seam, open-cut coal mine using truck and excavator methods to mine up to five million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of run-of-mine coal to produce pulverised coal injection product for at least 20 years.

Although it is anticipated that with additional drilling and refinement of extraction and production schedules from further technical and financial studies, the final operational life would be between 30-40 years.

A Baralaba Coal Company spokesman said the company was in the midst of the environmental assessment process and would share key findings in coming weeks.

“We are in the midst of the environmental and social assessment process for the Baralaba South metallurgical coal mine and we will be sharing key findings directly with our neighbours and other stakeholders in the coming weeks for further input, prior to submitting the report to the government early next year,” he said.

“As such, it is not appropriate to provide public comments on the specifics of the assessments before they are discussed with direct stakeholders.”



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