Draining the life-blood, a cheap grab for headlines

The Queensland Resources Council has come out swinging at a report released yesterday by mining activists, labelling it's findings on groundwater “alarmist” and a “cheap grab for headlines”.

Commissioned by activist group the Lock the Gate Alliance, the report entitled Draining the Life-Blood warns new mines in Queensland’s Galilee Basin will threaten groundwater.

The group says nine new coal mines in the region could have “potentially devastating impacts on groundwater” and calls for approvals to be suspended pending further investigation.

The report states dewatering projections for the proposed coal mines will see the equivalent of two-and-a-half Sydney Harbours worth of ground water drained from the basin.

QRC chief executive officer Michael Roche said the report uses an “extreme development scenario”.

Commissioned by a foundation member of the anti-coal movement, Roche said it is “predictable that an alarmist forecast would take centre stage”.

Roche said he is disappointed with the report which seeks to portray the instantaneous development of the Galilee Basin as a “done deal” when only one project has secured environmental approval.

“It has taken 50 years for Queensland coal exports to build to around 180 million tonnes a year but the report speaks blithely of an additional 312 million tonnes of coal exports from the Galilee Basin – a region currently with no mines and no rail connection to ports,” he said.

“Water security and sustainability is a major issue for Queensland and is deserving of more considered attention than a cheap grab for headlines.”

However he did concede the scenarios in the report could be a useful planning tool in working towards a regional solution to future water supply issues in the Galilee Basin.

Lock the gate Alliance spokesperson Ellie Smith has called for more research to be undertaken before mines are approved.

"The communities that are having these mines imposed upon them don't want water supplies gambled away by reckless governments – they need proper studies undertaken before the mines are approved and built," Smith said.

The Australian reports, the study’s author, former senior Queensland government water bureaucrat Tom Crothers, estimates the projects would consume 1354 billion litres of water over the estimated life of the mines.

Queensland mines minister Andrew Cripps said environmental assessment processes ensure groundwater is protected when new mines are developed.

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