Protesters gathered at Yeppoon demonstrating against Clive Palmer's proposed Styx mine.
Protesters gathered at Yeppoon demonstrating against Clive Palmer's proposed Styx mine.

Yeppoon protest against Clive Palmer’s CQ coal mine

About 80 people have gathered at a demonstration opposing a proposed coal mine near the Styx River in Central Queensland.

The event was held at Merv Anderson Park at Yeppoon and organised by the Capricorn Conservation Council (CCC) and the Capricorn Coast Landcare Group, with people gathering just before 5.30pm on April 14.

Protesters brought their signs saying “save the Styx” and “save our reef”, and chanted “stop the mine, save the reef” and “coral not coal.”

CCC co-ordinator Coral Rowston said it was unclear to her why a coal mine proposed by one of Clive Palmer’s companies was being pushed when there had been independent studies concluding the proposal would not be economically or financially viable.

“It’s a little bit scary in many ways because our community, if they’re expecting amine to go ahead, and it doesn’t, it leaves them in limbo,” Dr Rowston said.

“I think the safest thing for the government to do is to say, this has got unacceptable impacts on the great barrier reef and the fish habitat area, and reject it now on environmental grounds.”

She said the protest was organised only five days earlier

The proposed Central Queensland Coal Project (formerly Styx Coal Project) would generate up to 10 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of semisoft coking coal and high-grade thermal coal from an open-cut mine for 18 years.

It is being proposed by Central Queensland Coal Pty Ltd and would be located near St Lawrence.

Think tank Australia Institute investigated the mine proposal and concluded the project would lose $441 million and the basic costs and revenues from the project’s economic study were “optimistic”.

AI also claims it is unusual for production to jump dramatically in only one year, halfway through the life of the coal mine.

“More unusual still is that operating costs would then jump dramatically two years after the peak of production,” the report says.

The Federal Government’s Independent Expert Scientific Committee published a report on December 11, 2020, that there could be “significant and irreversible damage to internationally valued estuarine and near-shore ecosystems”, reduction of volume of dry-season pools and baseflow in Deep and Tooloombah Creeks, and direct loss of approximately 8.35km of waterways that provide fish passage during periods of high rainfall and flood.

But a publication from Central Queensland Coal on March 10, 2021, says the IESC review didn’t consider any “relevant” new work taken to address their previous comments.

“Potential impacts to downstream values have been specifically investigated and Significant Impact assessed by independent consultancies in accordance with relevant state and commonwealth guidelines which have found no significant impacts to the Great Barrier Reef or the Broadsound Fish Habitat Area,” the response claims.

It says creek banks will remain in tact and riparian vegetation along Deep Creek is to be expanded by width of 10m, and there’ll be no change to number of flow days (24 per cent) along that creek and Tooloombah Creek.

Central Queensland Coal’s document also says the project will create 167 new permanent jobs for the region.

But Dr Rowston said the reason she’s fighting the proposal is because she doesn’t want to see any mines near the Great Barrier Reef, especially only 10km away from the coastline.

“There’s no future in coal, we don’t need the coal mines, we’ve already got enough to sustain us through the transition to renewable energy,” she said.

Capricorn Coast Landcare’s Envirolink co-ordinator Sabrina Burke addressed the protest and said there are sufficient jobs in renewables.

She said she saw the mines in Zimbabwe as a kid and saw the polluted pits of water.

“I’m not being paid to be here like some of them up there would say,” Mrs Burke said.

She said she was married to a coal miner but could still make a difference where she could.

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