Contributed from Queensland
Glencore’s multibillion-dollar central Queensland Wandoan coalmine has been granted leases, years after the project was shelved amid falling prices and a growing global response to climate warming.
But now, Anthony Lynham, the state’s natural resources minister, has approved three leases covering 30,000 hectares near the Wandoen township, despite continuing doubts about the mine’s viability.
Anti-coal campaigners, including Lock the Gate are incensed and say that government should not be propping up coal mining, because it is a polluter and because it makes no sense to prop up a dying industry.
The open cut operation is planned to last for 35 years and will also require the construction of a railway to the Gladstone port.
Opponents argue that the mine will put the state’s agricultural industry at greater risk.
Lock the Gate spokesperson Carmel Flint said, “A large number of farmers have already been displaced by Glencore over this vast area, and now we fear that remaining farmers on and near the lease will be forced out.
“For many years local farmers have been fighting this coalmine,” an Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman, Jason Lyddieth, said on Wednesday. “We know that digging up coal and burning it is polluting our air and fueling climate change.
“The Queensland government needs to get serious about preparing for a carbon pollution-free world. It needs to get serious about our water, our land and our air.”
Greenpeace said the approval showed the government was more interested in propping up the fossil fuel industry than protecting communities and the environment.
“We can either have a healthy planet and thriving Great Barrier Reef or we can have new coalmines, not both,” said a climate and energy campaigner, Nikola Casule. “Our politicians must abandon their coal fetish and instead harness the renewable energy revolution to protect Australian communities and position Australia as an industry leader in this rapidly growing sector.”
GetUp promised to “resist this mine every step of the way”.
After having been granted the mining leases, Glencore is now able to extract a secretive Queensland government loan, through taking advantage of the royalty deferral package that was announced last June and which opponents of coal believe is a recipe for corruption.