Mega mine, mega catastrophe
27 August 2012
When Minister Burke described the environmental assessment of Gina Rinehart’s controversial Alpha Coal Project as “shambolic”, he wasn’t joking. But now he has given his own rubber stamp to the project, revealing the profound failure of the regulatory system in Australia.
Blogpost by John Hepburn
The project is big by global standards, with a 30 million tonne a year coal mine (as big as the largest coal mine currently operating in Australia), a 495km long railway line, and a massive new coal export terminal. But despite the scale of the impacts, there are gaping holes in the assessment process.
Nowhere in the entire regulatory system is there any assessment of the total climate change impacts of mining such a large amount of coal.
Farmers whose land would be dissected by the 495km long rail line have no apparent recourse to the fact that the line will cut across floodplains (possibly acting as a massive levy during times of flood) and disrupt their businesses and livelihoods. Alternative routes have simply not been evaluated.
The environmental consultants employed by Hancock conveniently failed to find endangered species on the mine site, despite it being common knowledge among local farmers that the area is home to the threatened black throated finch.
The coal port that would be required to export the coal from this mine is proposed to be built next to a turtle breeding ground, near a humpback whale gathering site, in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
If the Alpha Coal Project goes ahead, it would unlock the previously untapped Galilee Basin and could clear the way for up to 9 mega-mines that together could produce more coal than Australia currently exports in total.
The fight over this project has global significance. Not only would it have a serious impact on the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, but the sheer volume of coal from the Alpha project and the Galilee Basin that the project could enable, would have a globally significant climate impact. That is in part why over half a million people from around the world have already signed a petition opposing finance for the project and why 7,000 Australians made submissions opposing the coal port that would ship Alpha’s coal through the Great Barrier Reef.
This is going to be a long and hard campaign, but it is one that we can’t afford to lose.
To be part of it, sign our petition and get involved.