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29 May 2009

A $7 billion proposed coal mine has moved to the next stage with interested parties being called on to have their say.

Releasing the draft Terms of Reference today, Coordinator-General Colin Jensen, said Waratah Coal was proposing to establish an open cut thermal coal mine and urged people to have their say on the terms that will shape the environmental impact statement ( EIS ).

The mine would be located in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland near the town of Alpha, about 450km west of Rockhampton.

“The Galilee Coal project ( northern export facility ) also includes a railway line on which coal would be transported to newly built coal stockyards in the Abbot Point State Development Area north of Bowen,” Mr Jensen said.

“From there the coal would be conveyed to proposed new wharf facilities at Abbot Point and loaded onto ships for export.

“Waratah is examining a number of route and gauge options for the rail which will utilise existing road and rail easements as far as possible.

“Also proposed is a 285 km water supply pipeline from the Burdekin Falls Dam (also known as Lake Dalrymple) to provide the mine with most of the 7,500 mega litres of water it would need each year.

”The railway routes traverse mainly freehold land used for beef production and pasture crops, while the mine site and water pipeline corridor are predominantly on leasehold land used for beef production.

“Waratah is investigating either building a new airstrip or upgrading existing ones in Alpha or Emerald for a fly-in, fly-out workforce, which would be accommodated in a self-contained village near the mine,” Mr Jensen said.

The Galilee Coal project, which aims to start exporting coal in 2013 at up to 40 million tonnes per year has the potential for further expansion  in the future.

“Before Waratah Coal can prepare an EIS we need public input into what the terms the draft terms of reference should cover,” said Mr Jensen.

The scale, potential effects and complexity of approvals for this project requires a rigorous EIS to consider the potential environmental, cultural and socio-economic impacts on the local community.

“Given those potential impacts the proponent must prepare a detailed EIS outlining the benefits of this project and show how they would minimise potential impacts,” he said.

A decision on whether to proceed with the project, proceed with amendments or not to proceed will be made by the Coordinator-General after the environmental assessment process has been completed.

“It is important for the public to know that a significant project declaration is not an indication of approval or support for a project,” Mr Jensen said.

“Rather it is recognition of the significant complexity of a project – the substantial benefits it may bring and the and the need to carefully assess its impacts and how they could be mitigated if the project was approved to succeed.”

A further opportunity for public comment on the project will be available when the EIS is released for public comment in mid 2010.

The draft terms of reference is available to view on the Department of Infrastructure and Planning website and will be on public display at:

  • Whitsunday Regional Council Customer Service Centre – Bowen Office
    67 Herbert Street, Bowen
  • Barcaldine Regional Council – Alpha Office
    43 Dryden Street, Alpha
  • Isaac Regional  Council – Moranbah Office
    Grosvenor Complex, Batchelor Parade, Moranbah
  • State Library of Queensland  
    Cultural Centre, Stanley Place, South Bank, Brisbane

Submissions should be made in writing and close on at 5pm Monday 29 June 2009.

Media Contact – 3405 3481