Mining industry says risks to barrier reef are overstated

THE risks of dredging near the Great Barrier Reef are being overstated, according to the Queensland mining industry, in a submission to a state government examination of the reef and coastal areas.

With a decision on whether dredging can be dumped in the reef's marine park area due on Thursday, the Queensland Resources Council is reminding the state to remember the benefits of mining.

The gatekeeper of the reef - the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - is expected to decide by close of business on Friday whether to allow dredge material in the protected area.

However, even a refusal would not stop the dredging, although it would change where the spoil would be released.

The Queensland Government is running a "strategic assessment" of the reef in a response to international concern from the United Nations about the reef's health.

In its submission, the QRC describes the biggest risks to the reefs as being rising ocean temperature, crown-of-thorns starfish and storm run-off.

The QRC suggests there is an "over-representation" of the risks of dredging, and questions "the lack of any commentary on the benefits flowing from the resources sector".

State consultation ends on Friday with a final report due before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, conservation groups WWF-Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society on Wednesday released a 72-page report claiming state and federal governments were not doing enough to protect the reef.