Abbot Point super expansion divides critics

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The approval of a ‘super expansion’ for the Abbot Point coal terminal has been simultaneously welcomed by the mining industry and condemned by the Greens.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said overwhelming demand from miners for the Port’s development had widened plans for the expansion.

Bligh said while the Government had expected to approve an expansion from three terminals to seven, the spike in interest had taken the number up to nine.

She said in a statement the expansions would take the Port’s capacity to 400 million tonnes per annum and make it one of the largest coal export facilities in the world.

“This is a major new development that will drive an enormous economic surge through north Queensland, potentially creating tens of thousands of jobs.”

But Greens Senator Larissa Waters yesterday called on Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to quash the expansion plans.

“Tony Burke’s clear responsibility is to protect the Great Barrier Reef and he cannot claim to do that unless he rejects the Abbot Point coal expansion,” she said in a statement.

“Anna Bligh’s Labor Government proclaims that Abbot Point will create jobs, but she never seems to mention that it will destroy tens of thousands more jobs that rely on a healthy Great Barrier Reef — in tourism and fisheries — and on a healthy Murray Darling system.”

The Greens also called on the expansions to be rejected because they represented a “fossil fuel fixation” and contradicted efforts to tackle the “climate crisis”.

The Queensland Resources Council welcomed the expansions and said they represented an industry “on the front foot to secure critical infrastructure”.

But the QRC said it would be no good securing the greater port capacity if labour, electricity, and water supply challenges were not also addressed.

Image: The Age — Justin McManus

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