Mega mine? Mega disaster

Feature Story - 18 December, 2011
There is a proposal on the table to create Australia’s biggest ever coal mine smack bang on top of a nature refuge in Queensland. This coal mine marks a terrifying new push by the coal industry to dramatically increase Australia’s coal exports, which will have serious impacts on our climate and biodiversity.

It is well known in Australia that coal power stations produce bucket loads of climate damaging carbon pollution. What is less discussed is the carbon pollution produced by coal mining, or the admission that Australia’s coal exports - no matter where they’re burned - are an environmental catastrophe.

Now it is set to become a lot worse. Today we are making a submission to call on the Queensland Government to reject the application for what would be Australia’s largest coal mine. Waratah Coal’s China First mine would produce 40 million tonnes of coal per year, one of a number of mines planned in the coming years that would drastically expand our coal mining and exports.

We commissioned some research to evaluate the impact of the proposed mega mine. Some key findings include:

  • Just the mining of the coal alone from the China First mine will result in 2.9 million tonnes per annum when the mine reaches full capacity. This is equivalent to putting an extra 809,900 cars on the road, or the total emissions for an additional 231,100 households.
  • When burned, this coal will produce an additional 95 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year – equivalent to 16% of Australia’s current emissions, 26.9 million extra cars on the road, or 7.7 million additional households.
  • The plan will also result in the open-cut mining of the stunning 8000-hectare Bimblebox Nature reserve.

Read the full report (930kB)

Aside from frightening impact of the China First mine, this proposal also forms part of a broader mining plan in the Galilee Basin and includes a new rail line that would unlock 375 million tonnes of new coal production each year. It is a massive jump from the 283 million tonnes of coal Australia exported in 2010-2011.

This is a staggeringly large and ill-conceived development, which would take us in exactly the wrong direction. We have an ever-narrowing window of time to cut global emissions to avoid a climate catastrophe. Australia is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and if this project goes ahead it is like putting a gun to our own head.