9 February 2009
Queenslanders are being encouraged to have their say on the draft terms of reference for an environmental impact statement (EIS) for potentially Australia’s largest coal project, 360 kilometres south west of Mackay.
Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd is proposing to establish an open-cut coal mine with an initial export capacity of 30 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa).
The $7.5 billion Alpha Coal Project would comprise the mine and associated infrastructure and utilities; the potential construction of a new 400 km-plus rail line; and a port and a coal handling terminal able to expand to 80 Mtpa or more.
The nearest population centre would be the town of Alpha (population 400), 38 kilometres north-west of the proposed mine site.
Releasing the draft terms of reference today, Coordinator-General Colin Jensen called on local communities and other interested parties to highlight the environmental, cultural and socio-economic issues they think need to be considered in the EIS.
“This is the first opportunity for the public to have their say on the project—by identifying those matters they believe should be addressed in the EIS,” Mr Jensen said.
“The second and more significant opportunity for public comment will occur when the EIS is released later in the year.”
The release of the draft terms of reference for the EIS follows Mr Jensen’s declaration of the Alpha Coal Project as a ‘significant project’ in October last year.
“It’s important for the public to know that a ‘significant project’ declaration is not an indication of approval of, or support for, a project,” Mr Jensen said.
“Rather it is a recognition of the significant complexity of a project—the substantial benefits it may bring and the need to carefully assess its impacts and how they could be mitigated if the project was approved to proceed.”
Hancock proposes to locate a port and coal handling terminal at either an expanded port at Abbot Point or a new port at a Ports Corporation-owned site at Dudgeon Point, south of Mackay.
It proposes to either build a new rail track from the mine to the preferred port location and/or use parts of Queensland Rail’s railway system.
If approved, construction of the mine would begin in late 2010, coal exports in 2013. It would employ 2500 people during construction and 1,600 permanent staff. The mine would have a minimum life of 30 years.
The draft terms of reference for the EIS are available for viewing and/or downloading at most local council offices and libraries in the project area or at www.dip.qld.gov.au/projects/alpha-coal-project.html
Public submissions on the draft terms of reference must be made in writing and be received by close of business on Monday 9 March 2009.
c/- EIS Project Manager—Alpha Coal Project
Significant Projects Coordination
Department of Infrastructure and Planning
PO Box 15009 City East Qld 4002 Australia
Tel: +61 7 3238 3131
Fax: +61 7 3225 8282