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Government approves first coal mine since election

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Federal environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has indicated that she plans to approve the Isaac River coal mine in Bowen Basin, Queensland, marking the first coal project approval during the Labor Government’s reign.

The mine is a smaller-scale coal project and is owned by Bowen Coking Coal. It’s expected to produce half a million tonnes of steelmaking coal per annum during its life.

The Government received no submissions from the public or environmental groups during the public consultation period, which is ordinarily the window used by objectors to formally challenge a project.

“The Albanese Government has to make decisions in accordance with the facts and the national environment law – that’s what happens on every project, and that’s what’s happened here,” a spokesperson for the Minister said, as reported by The Guardian.

“Since the election, we’ve doubled renewable energy approvals to a record high. The Government will continue to consider each project on a case-by-case basis, under the law.”

The approval follows the Minister’s decision to knock back two other coal projects just this month.

Stanmore Coal’s Range Coal project in the Western Downs and MacMines Austasia’s China Stone mine in the Galilee Basin were both rejected, after failing to provide the required documentation.

“I’ve been clear I will have zero tolerance for businesses who refuse to provide adequate information about the impact that their projects will have on nature,” Plibersek said about the rejections.

“If companies aren’t willing to show how they will protect nature, then I’m willing to cancel their projects – and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”

The Minister also stifled Clive Palmer’s plans for the central Queensland coal project earlier this year, citing the potential threat the mine presents to the Great Barrier Reef.

Announcing her rejection of the proposed mine via a Twitter video, the minister cited the adverse environmental impacts of the open-cut mine, which was planned just 10 kilometres away from the Great Barrier Reef.

The Minister’s latest decision to approve the Bowen Basin project makes the Government’s standing on coal less clear, leaving the future of the 19 proposed coal and gas projects in the pipeline up to speculation.

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