Clive Palmer speaks during a news conference in Brisbane in 2012 about his China First coal project in the Galilee Basin. Photographer: Patrick Hamilton.
Clive Palmer speaks during a news conference in Brisbane in 2012 about his China First coal project in the Galilee Basin. Photographer: Patrick Hamilton.

Palmer pushes Gaillee Basin coal bid

PLANS by Clive Palmer for a coal and rail project in the Galilee Basin have proceeded with the State Government notifying the public of a mining lease application and environmental authority by the businessman's company Waratah Coal.

Meanwhile, conservationists say they will object to the proposal and trigger a hearing of the Land Court of Queensland to test its approvals.

Waratah Coal has proposed open-cut and underground coal mines with a total yield of 40 million tonnes per annum and capacity for future expansion and railway line.

The project is in the Galilee Basin, about 30km north of Alpha, and comprises four underground coal mines, two open-cut coal mines and a 453km standard-gauge railway line.

According to an environmental impact statement, the project will create 3500 jobs in construction and 2325 jobs in operation.

The Government's Coal Assessment Hub issued a notice of the mining lease application on October 4, requiring any objections to be lodged on or before December 2.

Waratah Coal gained its EIS approvals from both the Federal and Queensland governments in 2013 and a draft Environmental Authority for the mining lease in 2015.

"Waratah Coal are currently completing regulatory project approvals as required by government agencies," a company spokesman said.

"The project has in place … approvals from both State and Federal governments."

Lock the Gate Alliance claims if it proceeds it will destroy grazing land and the Bimblebox Nature Refuge.

Landowner and Nature Refuge co-owner Paola Cassoni said she would consider all her options now that the Mining Lease and Environmental Authority had been notified.

"We have submitted to the Environmental Impact Statement and voiced our concerns throughout the EIS process. But by making an objection to the Land Court, Waratah's assertions about the impacts of the mine can finally be put to the test," Ms Cassoni said.

Lock the Gate Queensland spokeswoman Ellie Smith said a recent Supreme Court decision had thrown into doubt consideration of groundwater during the grant of an Environmental Authority and in any subsequent Land Court processes.

"The Queensland Government must quickly pass legislation to fix this loophole that puts millions of litres of water at risk," Ms Smith said

A Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy spokesman said granting a mining lease and Environmental Authority was an application-based process that invited public input before being subjected to rigorous technical assessment.

"Community, landholders and the general public have the opportunity to lodge an objection regarding the mining lease or draft Environmental Authority online or in writing via email," the spokesman said.

"If objections are received, the matter is referred to the independent Land Court of Queensland before any decisions to grant or reject the application are made."