Environment Minister’s proposal to refuse mine puts the Great Barrier Reef first

A Clown fish in the Great Barrier Reef (Image Credit: Giorgia Doglioni - Unsplash).

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s proposal to reject Clive Palmer’s Central Queensland Coal project is the right decision for the Great Barrier Reef and is welcomed, the Australian Marine Conservation Society says.

The open-cut coal mine, proposed for an area just 10km from the Reef World Heritage Area, is proposed for rejection by the minister because of risks to the Great Barrier Reef marine park, natural heritage values, World Heritage and the impact on water resources.

The mine was deemed ‘not suitable to proceed’ by the Queensland government in April 2021, and government-appointed scientists warned in early 2021 that the mine threatened to cause ‘significant and irreversible impacts to the Reef.

Independent researchers from UCLouvain in Belgium used modelling to predict that fine sediment from the mine could be carried by strong tides and currents in nearby Broad Sound to dugong and turtle strongholds.

AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaigner Cherry Muddle said: “We are glad the minister has listened to the science and these many warnings and acted in the best interests of our beautiful Reef.

“Following the consultation period, we hope Minister Plibersek rejects this mine once and for all. 

“In the wake of the fourth mass bleaching event on the Reef since 2016, it is vital new coal and gas projects like this one are refused. It shows the government is serious about protecting the Reef and tackling the issues that threaten it.

“If the minister rejects the mine it will be the first refusal of a coal project after the EPBC assessment,” Ms Muddle said.

The minister’s decision is now open for public comment until 18 August after which she will make her final decision. It is not known how soon this will follow.

AMCS published a report into the potential impacts of the mine on nearby marine environments, which is available here.

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