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Byron Shire
April 19, 2024

Mines will drain central Qld water: report

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Alpha Coal Mine Test Pit
The Alpha Mine test pit in Queensland. Photo courtesy Lock The Gate Alliance. © Greenpeace/Andrew Quilty

Proposed coal mines will drain the equivalent of two-and-a-half Sydney harbours of groundwater in central Queensland, a report says.

Released on Monday and commissioned by anti-mining group Lock the Gate Alliance, the report assesses mining proposals and analyses potential groundwater impacts in the Galilee basin in the state’s central west.

Several mining companies have proposed more than 34 open cut and 11 underground coal mines along a 270 kilometre stretch of the cattle grazing country.

Authored by former senior Queensland government water bureaucrat Tom Crothers, the report says the mine projects combined will have an enormous impact on groundwater levels.

Mr Crothers suggests they could also interfere with the Great Artesian Basin.

The report says federal and state governments have failed to assess the cumulative impacts the mining projects will have on groundwater relied upon by farmers and towns.

‘Groundwater drawdown will significantly reduce the ability for surrounding graziers and towns to supply their water needs,’ it says.

Mr Crothers estimates the mines would consume a total of 1,354 billion litres over project life estimations of between 30 and 90 years.

This is the equivalent of two-and-a-half Sydney Harbours removed from underground storages. Towns affected include Jericho and Alpha, west of Emerald.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokeswoman Ellie Smith says mining approvals in the area should be suspended until the government undertakes further studies.

‘Our communities depend on groundwater – it’s our lifeblood,’ she said.

‘The coal companies and our governments are treating us with contempt by rushing ahead to develop these damaging mines without even quantifying the true risk to the region’s water resources.’

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