The Queensland government has approved a $6.4 billion coalmine to be owned by Clive Palmer.
The huge mining project, located in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, is expected to produce about 40 million tonnes of coal a year for 30 years, much of which will be shipped to booming industrial centres in China.
On top of that, hundreds of kilometres of railway will be laid to the Abbot Point coal terminal near Bowen, one of the many ports along the Queensland coast that is used to ship coal overseas.
This threatens the Bimblebox Nature Reserve, an 8000 hectare nature refuge that lies in the path of the mine. Supporters of the campaign to save Bimblebox called the approval a “disgrace” and are campaigning to protect the refuge, which does not have automatic exemption from mineral exploration.
They said in a statement: “This is not the only project proposed for the region; the multiple mega coal mines proposed for the Galilee Basin will have significant repercussions for biodiversity and our vital groundwater resources, not to mention the global climate.”
Despite the environmental impacts, the Queensland government is in favour of developing the Galilee Basin and because it says it will create jobs.
However, research by the Australia Institute found that 3000 jobs would be destroyed in tourism, agriculture and manufacturing as a result of the mine. Housing affordability would also decline for those not employed in the mine.
The Queensland government insists that projects such as this are in the interest of working people and the unemployed. In reality, the environment and communities will be trashed for corporate profit.
Before work can begin on the mine, it needs to be granted federal approval.
State development minister Jeff Seeney said: “It is another major infrastructure decision for development of the Galilee Basin and I very much hope that the Commonwealth does not now hold up its approval and delay another vital project for the Queensland economy”.
This extensive development is just another addition to the host of threats that are facing the Great Barrier Reef.
Despite being a World Heritage-listed site, several enormous super-ports are being opened along the Queensland coast, encouraging shipping companies to expand their operations. This will further damage the already threatened reef.
This is despite the fact that it is a large source of tourism revenue for the Queensland economy.
This is not to mention the enormous effect the mining, transport, shipping and burning of this coal will have on the growing climate emergency that the Australian government has resolutely not addressed in a serious way.
This expansion of industry ties in nicely with Palmer’s bid to construct his own alternative to the Liberals in the federal election, with himself as prime ministerial candidate.
This political move really shows that Palmer is not content to have the government on his side most of the time, but rather wishes to personally control the parliament in order to make sure that his interests are served.
This total capitulation to mining magnates like Palmer shows the complicity of state and federal governments in allowing the mining companies free rein over the natural environment of our nation. It is clear that only a social movement of concerned citizens is going to be able to halt the advance of the mining companies.
It is essential that this social movement has the support from ordinary Australians, which it will need to throw the mining companies out of power.
This campaign adds to the host of environmental campaigns that seek to defend ecosystems and communities from mining companies, defeating the mining companies at the point of extraction and keeping coal in the ground.
This movement is just the beginning of what is necessary, the enormous political mobilisations needed to drive the corporations from the corridors of power and create a sustainable and democratic Australian society free from the hands of corporate interest.
[A Rally for the Reef will be held on August 25 in Queens Park, Brisbane, at 11am.]