Govt hoses down farmers Adani groundwater fears
FARMERS fear water resources, the "lifeblood” of Central Queensland, will be put as risk by mega-mines.
With much of Queensland struggling though a fifth consecutive year of drought, primary land producers have voiced their concerns at losing out on groundwater resources.
Gathering for a forum at the Gracemere CQLX sale yards on Wednesday night, more than 80 local graziers listened and voiced their opinions on the potential groundwater impacts of the development of nine mega mines in the Galilee Basin, including Adani's.
Central Queensland organic beef producer Mick Alexander said agriculture played a big part in the region's economy and the impacts on groundwater could risk that.
"Agriculture employs nearly 60,000 Queenslanders, we export more than $9 billion worth of agriculture products every year and are the backbone of this region,” he said.
"Here in Central Queensland, many graziers are utterly reliant on access to groundwater for stock, and much of this state is struggling through a fifth consecutive year of drought. That's why we saw so many worried faces at the forum last night.”
Former general manager of water allocation and planning with the Queensland Government, Tom Crothers, said he was extremely disappointed in the policy framework the Queensland and Federal governments had used to process approvals for the Adani mine.
He warned the industry that proposed developments in the Galilee Basin posed serious potential long-term risks to water security in central and western Queensland.
"In the last five years of my career I worked in the public service as the leader in the development of Qld's policy for water allocation,” he said.
"There is a lack of transparency, engagement and integrity in governments' dealings with primary producers who will be impacted by these nine proposed mines.
"They haven't treated those landholders with any respect at all.”
The farmers who attended the forum unanimously supported the motion that Adani's Carmichael coal mine, and eight other proposed mega-mines, put water resources that are the lifeblood of Central Queensland at risk.
"We call on Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Minister for the Environment Leanne Enoch and Minister for Mines Anthony Lynham to cancel Adani's water licence to protect our fragile water resources for future generations,” Mr Crothers said on behalf of the group.
Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham hit back, saying there were almost 270 conditions on the Adani Carmichael Coal mine project to protect the natural environment and the interests of landholders and traditional owners.
"More than 100 of these conditions relate to groundwater,” he said. "Adani's water licences provide the mine with a volume of water about one per cent of what farmers are able to use in the Burdekin catchment now.
"The licences allow Adani to remove enough water from the mine to allow it to operate safely.”
Minister Lynham said modelling showed Adani could take 4550 megalitres of groundwater a year, roughly the amount used each year by a 450 hectare cane farm in the Lower Burdekin.
"Adani has to have make-good agreements in place with landholders whose existing groundwater entitlements might be affected,” he said.
"Most importantly, the government has the ability to require a mine to stop operations if any of these licences are breached.”