Call for Feds to approve CQ mega mine
AFTER LNP politicians spent 2019 hammering State Labor for dragging its feet to approve Adani's Carmichael Mine, the shoe is on the other foot in 2020 with Labor telling them to hurry up and approve a key mining project.
Set to be constructed southeast of Moranbah, Olive Downs coal mine promises to deliver a $1 billion investment to Central Queensland, along with 500 full-time equivalent jobs during construction and an average of 1000 full-time equivalent operational jobs during its anticipated operational life of 79 years.
Once operational, the mine would have a yield of up to 15 million tonnes of product coal per annum for steel production - more than Adani's initial 10 million tonne production before its planned ramp up to 27.5 million tonnes.
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga accused the Federal Government of inaction by delaying its approval for the mine after the Queensland Government signed off through the Coordinator General on all state environmental approvals, including the Environmental Authority in May 2019.
"A decision by the Commonwealth Minister was due on June 24, 2019 - 30 business days after the Federal Government received the Coordinator-General's evaluation report," Ms Lauga said.
"This is the maximum allowable time under the Federal Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
"Bewilderingly, it's now been over six months and still no federal decision."
She understood the project was ready to start construction within two months of receiving final approvals.
"I'm calling on the Federal Resources Minister Senator Matt Canavan to get these approvals sorted and more jobs flowing for Central Queenslanders."
The sticking point for the mine's approval process was its need to clear thousands of hectares of wildlife habitat, home to a number of vulnerable species including the koala, greater glider, squatter pigeon (southern), ornamental snake habitat and the Australian painted snipe.
Senator Canavan's office referred the issue to the Department of the Environment and Energy to explain the hold up.
A DEE spokesperson said it received four projects relating to the proposed Olive Downs Coal Mine Project, with a total project disturbance footprint of about 16,300 hectares.
These included the Olive Downs Project Mine Site and Access Road, Water Pipeline, Electricity Transmission Line and the Rail Spur.
"All four projects were determined controlled actions for likely significant impacts on listed threatened species and ecological communities," the spokesperson said.
"The 'Mine Site and Access Road' project was also determined likely to have a significant impact on listed migratory species and water resources.
"The Department considered there was insufficient information available in the Queensland Coordinator-General's evaluation report (May 2019) to make an informed decision on whether or not to approve the projects.
The spokesperson said on June 20, 2019, the delegate of the Minister agreed to 'stop the clock' on the 30 business day assessment processes to request further information from the proponent regarding a number of issues.
These included impact assessments for the koala, greater glider, squatter pigeon (southern), ornamental snake and Australian painted snipe; impacts on ground and surface water, in particular recommendations made by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development; and the draft Biodiversity Offsets Strategy, in particular the proposed offsets for the greater glider.
The spokesperson said the proponent provided the requested further information on November 29, 2019 and the assessment 'clock' was restarted.
"The Department is now finalising its assessment of these four large-scale, complex projects, which includes consideration of the direct cumulative clearance of habitat," they said.
"Once the assessments are complete, the Minister (Sussan Ley) or her delegate will consider approval of the four projects under national environmental law.
"It is anticipated that the proposed decisions of approval will be made in early 2020."