Risks to Great Barrier Reef Could Thwart Tycoon’s Coal Plans

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 07: Aerial views of The Great Barrier Reef are seen from above on August 7, 2009 in Cairns, Australia. A recent report by marine scientist Charlie Veron claims that the reef will be so degraded by warming seas that it will be gone within 20 years, and that this situation is now irreversible. He goes on to predict that once carbon dioxide levels hit levels predicted between 2030 and 2060, that all reefs will become extinct and their ecosystems would collapse. The area pictured is also where conservation celebrity Steve Irwin was killed by a singray. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

(Bloomberg) --Environmental risks posed to habitats including Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef mean a mining tycoon’s planned new coal project shouldn’t go ahead, according to regulators.

By David Stringer
Apr 29, 2021, 6:38 AM
Word Count: 314

The proximity of Central Queensland Coal’s proposed operation to the reef, off the country’s northeastern coast, other key ecological sites and groundwater ecosystems make it unsuitable to proceed, the state government’s department of environment and science said in a statement.

With an estimated operational life of 19 years, the project would “pose a significant risk to the saltmarsh, mangrove, seagrass and coral communities of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and to threatened marine migratory species,” the department said.

A final decision on rejecting or approving the company’s plans will now be made by Australia’s Environment Minister Sussan Ley, most likely within the next 30 days. Central Queensland Coal is owned by Clive Palmer, a vocal businessman who’s used his mining sector fortune to make forays into politics and served for a single term in Australia’s lower house after winning a seat in 2013.

Read more: The Brash Billionaire Who Wants to Make Australia Great Again

New coal projects remain a bitterly divisive issue in Australia. Environmentalists and climate activists have used lawsuits and street protests to oppose developments, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison — who famously branded a lump of the fuel in parliament — has frequently offered support to a sector that’s a key driver of export earnings and a source of jobs in communities where he’ll seek support at a national election expected next year.

Central Queensland Coal intends to address potential impacts to the environment and groundwater resources, managing director Nui Harris said in a statement. The firm “will work closely with the department to mitigate these impacts, with a view of applying for an environmental license in the near future, to commence operations,” Harris said.

To contact the author of this story:
David Stringer in Melbourne at [email protected]

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    Based on the US experience … billionare’s (most) are rarely interested in making a ‘country’ “Great Again” …for the how manyith time ? … but themselves ! Wake up !

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options