Clive Palmer threatens Bimblebox nature refuge

Image: Bimblebox.org
Friday, June 1, 2012

Bimblebox is an 8000-hectare nature refuge in the Galilee Basin in central-west Queensland. It is an important site of biodiversity and is being used as a site for many long-term research projects in land management. It also lies in the path of what is planned to be Australia’s largest coalmine.

Nine huge mines have been proposed for the Galilee Basin. Waratah Coal, owned by billionaire Clive Palmer, has an exploration permit over the entire Bimblebox refuge.

These mines, which are yet to win formal approval by the federal government, are part of a massive expansion in coal production across Australia. These projects will cause Australia’s coal exports to double within 10 years.

The Bimblebox Nature Refuge website says: “Waratah Coal plans to extract 40 megatonnes of coal per year, which will be transported on a yet-to-be-built rail line up to Abbot Point and shipped through the Great Barrier Reef on its way to China where it will be burnt for energy generation.”

Greenpeace released a report in March called “Boom goes the Reef” that explains the huge threat these new coalmines pose to the Great Barrier Reef.

It said: “Up to 10,000 coal ships would travel through the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area by the end of the decade ... millions of tonnes of sea floor will need to be dredged from the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area ... Clive Palmer’s ‘China First’ mine openly states that the mine would destroy over 2000 manufacturing jobs in Queensland alone.”

On May 30, the Queensland government approved the first of these mines in the Galilee Basin; the Alpha mine proposed by Hancock Coal, which belongs to Gina Rinehart.

Paola Cassoni, part-owner of Bimblebox Nature Refuge, told Green Left Weekly “[Queensland Premier] Campbell Newman made an election promise to protect high conservation value areas. He needs to know that is Bimblebox gets mined there will be an outcry.”

A new film about the conservation campaign, called Bimblebox, was released in May. Cassoni said the film was made as part of a strategy to bring wider attention to what was happening in the region. “It aims to win the hearts and minds of Australians. It’s not just about Bimblebox but about climate change, pollution, the two-speed economy and other effects of the coal and coal seam gas mining boom.”

The documentary was made by US filmmaker Mike O’Connell who previously made the film Mountaintop Removal about the resistance to coalmining in the United States.

The film features interviews with actor Guy Pearse, scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and Beyond Zero Emissions executive director Matthew Wright. The film also features the music of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.

Cassoni admits it is tough taking on “two levels of government and a billionaire” but is adamant they haven’t lost the battle yet. “If you see the film you realise there are alternatives to coal, such as renewables. We’re only delaying the inevitable.”

The film is now being screened around Australia and can be purchased from online at bimbleboxdocumentary.com.