Mining giant crushes Dawson spirit

IF you want to know the effect Xstrata's decision to suspend the $6 billion Wandoan Coal project has had on the town, just ask Ray Mortimer.

The owner of Wandoan Reality has witnessed firsthand the devastating effect of the announcement during the seven days since it was made.

Mr Mortimer said he'd had no inquiries about houses in the past week and four contracts had fallen over.

“The banks have gone hard and pulled out of Wandoan,” Mr Mortimer said.

Mr Mortimer is also president of Wandoan Chamber of Commerce and said the town was uncertain about the future.

“Everything's gone dead,” he said.

“We're not sure if they (Xstrata) have deferred for 12 months or pulled out completely.

“No-one knows what's going to happen.”

Mr Mortimer said Xstrata was due to hold a public meeting last night, where he hoped the community would learn more about the situation.

Banana Shire Division Six councillor Vaughn Becker described the postponement as a huge blow to the Taroom and Wandoan areas.

“These projects have been on the agenda for years and we get so close and then it's pulled back,” Cr Becker said. “It's a huge blow to Wandoan and the greater region including Miles and Taroom.

“The big problem is the whole uncertainty – it's frustrating not knowing what's going on.

“We've had a gutful – I wish we could get some certainty.”

Cr Becker, who lives in Taroom and represents Taroom, Theodore and Cracow areas, said he thought there was gamesmanship involved in Xstrata's decision.

The long-term Taroom resident said he thought the percentage part of the Federal Government's proposed Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) was “ill thought out”.

“I think they would get more done with consultation, not the bull-at-a-gate stance they have now.”

Cr Becker feared for the flow-on effects to the other two projects that formed the ‘Taroom Trifecta' – the Surat-Basin Rail link from Wandoan to Banana and the Nathan Dam.

“I am gravely concerned about these developments,” he said. “I would think if the mine doesn't go ahead there is no need for the rail.

“It probably will have some impact on the dam.”

Cr Becker said local contractors had been working at the mine.

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