Australia says no to new thermal coal project

Australia’s environment minister has declined to grant permission for a new thermal coal project near the Great Barrier Reef.

The Central Queensland Coal (CQC) mine is in the Styx Coal Basin, just off the coast of central Queensland.

“I’ve decided that the adverse environmental impacts are simply too great,” Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said in a video posted to social media.

“The mine is an open-cut coal mine less than 10 km from the Great Barrier Reef, and the risk of pollution and irreversible damage to the reef is very real.”

Plibersek said her office received 9,000 public submissions on the issue in ten business days.

Environmental experts say the UNESCO world heritage-listed reef, the world’s biggest coral reef ecosystem, is suffering from the significant impact of climate change and warming of oceans.

The mine’s owner, CQC, has not yet responded to the rejection.

CQC had proposed to build an open-cut mine about 700km north-west of Brisbane, that would produce both thermal and coking coal and operate for about 20 years.

Last year Plibersek had flagged that the federal government might block the mine. 

The Queensland state government had last year also recommended their federal counterparts reject the proposal, saying the environmental risks were “significant”.

Plibersek’s department agreed, finding sediment and run off from the open-cut mine was likely to damage the Reef and local water resources.