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The State Government has begun the environmental assessment process for the proposed multi billion dollar expansion of BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) northern Bowen Basin coal operation.

Coordinator General Colin Jensen said the draft Terms of Reference for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would allow public and advisory agency comment on the proposed expansion.

“The scale, potential effects and complexity of approvals for the proposed expansion north of the Moranbah township requires a rigorous EIS to consider the potential social, natural, economic and cultural impacts,” Mr Jensen said.

“The draft Terms of Reference have been developed in consultation with the BMA and will outline the information and detail required to be provided in the EIS to satisfy both State and Commonwealth legislation.

“BMA is proposing to construct two new open cut mines at Daunia and Caval Ridge as well as expanding its existing Goonyella Riverside Mine.

“The project also involves the construction of a new airport replacing the existing Moranbah airport to accommodate increased travel to and from the area.

“The entire project could enable BMA to increase its coking coal exports from the northern Bowen Basin by about 20 million tonnes per year.

Mr Jensen declared the proposed expansion a Significant Project in July this year. A significant project declaration allows coordination of government consideration of the project, it does not equate to government support for a project.

“About 2450 construction jobs and 1240 operational jobs could be created by the project,” Mr Jensen said.

“As part of the EIS a number of studies will need to be undertaken to assess the project’s effects on flora, fauna, water resources, air quality, noise, visual amenity and the socio-economic environment in the study area.

“Key issues that the draft Terms of Reference requires to be addresses include; the provision of water to the project, the transportation of coal and the potential impacts of mining underneath the Isaac River and the capacity of the Moranbah area to provide sufficient accommodation and community services.

“This is the public’s chance to have their say on what the EIS should address and I encourage all those who want to do so to write in,” Mr Jensen said.

Written comments on the draft Terms of Reference will be accepted until the close of business on Friday 29 August 2008 and should be addressed to:

Department of Infrastructure and Planning
Significant Project Coordination
Bowen Basin Coal Growth Project
PO Box 15009 City East Qld 4002 Australia
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Copies of the draft Terms of Reference will also be available on the website: www.dip.qld.gov.au/eis