Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.
Carmichael coal mine in Queensland. CONTRIBUTED

Billions locked up in untapped Galilee Basin

OPENING the Galilee Basin will generate almost $4 billion in economic activity and support more than 13,000 jobs in the Isaac, Mackay and Whitsunday regions, according to new research.

The economic benefits of coal and gas projects in the region by 2030 were modelled by consultancy agency Synergies. The Greater Whitsunday Council of Mayors commissioned the research which estimates the three regional economies could grow by $3.9 billion by 2030.

Isaac Mayor and GWCoM chair Anne Baker said during the construction phase of the resource industry in the Galilee, there was the potential for more than $1 billion of additional economic activity every year, supporting 2400 jobs.

"The Galilee Basin is a vast untapped resource of coal and gas which, if sustainability and responsibly managed, will yield billions in economic output and create tens of thousands of jobs," Cr Baker said.

Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox said the research foreshadowed a strong economic future for the Greater Whitsunday region. He said the billions of dollars in activity would, in turn, generate billions in revenue for federal and state governments.

"Those future revenues will deliver the better roads, public transport, schools, hospitals and essential services demanded by those in our cities, the same people who continue to say that we must stop one mine and pull the pin on developing the Galilee Basin."

The economic modelling has emboldened the councils to demand activists stop campaigning against mining in the Galilee Basin. Cr Baker said the region was "tired of two-word slogans from activists".

"(These) activists... belittle the contribution of this region to the economy and seek to deny future generations access to the prosperity they have enjoyed by pulling the ladder up."

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said the anti-mining rhetoric was endangering the region, and pointed to the communities who suffered huge job losses after their manufacturing industry was closed.

In 2016 the Geelong Ford plant closed its doors on 600 manufacturing workers. A year later 1400 jobs were lost in Elizabeth when Holden shut down its factory.

"Have we already forgotten about the impact of shutting down an Australian industry?" Cr Williamson asked.

He said the resource industry had provided a "new economy" that was providing opportunities for displaced car industry workers.

The Synergies report also completed a comparative analysis of the carbon footprint of one of nation's biggest capitals versus a coal mine.

Cr Williamson said the research indicated the per hectare CO2 emissions from a city like Melbourne were more than double what the coal mine produce.

The CO2 generated per hectare by the population of Melbourne was modelled at 402 tonnes annually. In comparison an operating coal mine would produce 172 tonnes annually, he said.

"Before we arbitrarily shut down an industry which effectively powers our cities and affords urbanites their comfortable lifestyle let's start talking about the environmental impact created by those in our cities and how they are planning to deal with that.

"What we do need is a genuine national conversation about charting an achievable and sustainable path to a future energy mix that is more than just a target and a date.

"But all we are hearing is the need for our resource sector workers and communities to reskill for a transition to the new economy," Cr Williamson said.