Synopsis: Faced with strong community opposition, the Queensland Minister for Resources, Scott Stewart, has refused to grant a mineral development licence for Fox Resources for a potential coal mine near Bundaberg. Stewart noted “significant adverse community sentiment” over the impacts of a possible coal mine on the environment and agricultural lands. “Fox has not adequately demonstrated to me they can resolve or offset the public’s concern,” he said. Farmers objected to the likely impacts on farmland and water supplies. Environmental groups said the project would have affected the turtle nesting grounds at Mon Repos. The Lock the Gate Alliance called on the government to amend the state’s planning laws to exclude mining exploration licences from being allowed on prime agricultural land and other priority areas.
Bundaberg coal mine rejection welcome, but project should never have been considered in the first place
But the Alliance says the drawn-out saga is evidence that Queensland needs stricter laws to protect communities, prime agricultural land, and other priority areas from mining.
Bundaberg cane farmer Judy Plath said, “This is a great example of a minister listening to a regional community, who were saying very clearly that they did not support a coal mine in a coastal farming region that relies on tourism.”
“But it is time for a serious rethink of how we zone for mining at a time when the world is facing food shortages. It’s never been more important to protect prime agricultural land and our precious water supplies.”
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said, “This victory is testament to the never give up attitude of Bundaberg locals, and we warmly congratulate the Resources Minister on listening to their views.
“But this is a battle the community should never have had to fight. There are some places that are too precious to mine – Fox Resources should never have been allowed to apply to mine in our food bowl just near the Great Barrier Reef.
“The coal mine threatened not just food production but would also have impacted on the world renowned turtle nesting grounds at Mon Repos.
“Queensland desperately needs to strengthen regional planning laws to prohibit mining in prime farming land and areas of environmental and cultural significance.
“The Queensland Government could act right now to make these areas off limits by minor legal amendments – it’s time to stop leaving it to communities to protect Queensland’s best assets.
“There’s also mounting evidence that it’s long past time to act – with the International Panel on Climate Change issuing another warning today about the terrible impacts on people and the environment of extreme weather events if we don’t start moving away from fossil fuels now.”
Press announcement from Minister for Resources
The Honourable Scott Stewart
Published Tuesday, 05 April, 2022 at 01:00 PM
A proposal for coal exploration at Bundaberg will not proceed.
Resources Minister Scott Stewart today refused Fox Resources’ application for a mineral development licence to further their exploration for coal north of Bundaberg.
Speaking in Bundaberg, Mr Stewart said his decision was in the public interest.
“The Palaszczuk Government supports the resources industry for the jobs it creates and the royalties it generates to fund teachers, nurses and police officers,” he said.
“However, as I have today advised Fox Resources, I have considered a significant amount of information, including submissions from Fox and detailed information from my department in reaching this decision.
“There is significant adverse community sentiment about this mineral development licence.
“This is particularly in relation to the potential negative environmental, agricultural and social impacts in the Bundaberg region.
“I have given significant weight to the concerns of the community, which include Bundaberg Regional Council and Members of Parliament.
“Fox has not adequately demonstrated to me they can resolve or offset the public’s concerns.
“I also considered the option of approving the MDL with conditions, but I’m not satisfied this could adequately mitigate the identified risks, potential negative impacts and community concerns.”
Mr Stewart said Queensland has a strong assessment process for resources projects and will continue to assess each proposed project on its own merits.
“The resources sector continues to support about 80,000 jobs across Queensland and represents $48 billion in exports and generates millions of dollars in royalties for all Queenslanders,” Mr Stewart said.
“It has been a key part of the Palaszczuk Government’s economic recovery from COVID-19 supporting thousands of jobs throughout regional Queensland.
“The Palaszczuk Government has supported more than $21 billion in resource sector investment and created more than 8000 jobs.”