Environment Minister Tony Burke
Environment Minister Tony Burke

Locals living near Kevin's Corner mine worried about water

THOSE living in the shadow of the multi-billion-dollar Kevin's Corner mine are terrified about losing their water supplies, even as the council, state and mining giants promise anything lost will be replaced.

The enormous second mine project sold to Indian powerhouse GVK by billionaire Gina Rinehart - to create GVK Hancock Coal - was approved by the Queensland Coordinator General Barry Broe in late May.

In his report, Mr Broe warned that in developing Kevin's Corner, nearby water resources could be destroyed.

The $4.2 billion project will encompass two open-cut mines, three underground mines, a 2000-person camp and 2.5km runway for workforce. It will require 1800 workers to build and 1600 to operate.

Both Kevin's Corner and its sister-project Alpha are to start construction as soon as possible, with first coal from Alpha exported by mid-2017, according to GVK Hancock Coal.

Barcaldine mayor Rob Chandler told APN on Thursday he believed any concerns about water would be addressed by comprehensive "make-good" deals done with the government and mines to ensure water was replaced if affected.

Mr Chandler said many in the region were concerned about the implications.

"They're terrified they would lose their stock-watering facilities," Mr Chandler said.

"But the Coordinator-General will have make-good agreements to supply water now and into the future."

If compromised, companies would be expected to build permanent infrastructure, supplying townships of Alpha and Jericho with water.

It would be pulled either from Fairbairn Dam near Emerald or the Burdekin River via Moranbah.

A GVK Hancock Coal spokeswoman said Kevin's Corner was a critical project not just for the economy but for the environment - lower quality, higher polluting coals would be used in lieu of the cleaner product to be supplied from the Galilee.

Although given an early State Government approval, GVK required a lot of signatures before starting construction.

Still at the state level, it needs at least another 15 approvals including the granting of a mining lease and an "environmental authority" to operate.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke needs to tick off that the project has met all the proper standards and GVK must win approval for its airfield from the national regulator.

Mr Burke's department said a result was "due in the near future".