Environmental groups urge Aurizon to dump GVK coal deal

Civil society groups have sent Aurizon an open letter urging them to dump plans to buy GVK Hancock’s rail and port project and adding they will use any peaceful means necessary to top the projects being built.

“The new rail and port proposals that Aurizon is considering buying equity in would be a disaster for the Great Barrier Reef and the climate” said Erland Howden, climate campaigner at Greenpeace.

“The new port will see massive dredging and many more ships passing through the Reef. And opening the Galilee Basin mines would see Australia making an even greater contribution to pushing global temperatures beyond safe levels”.

The letter says in part:

The projects that you have recently chosen to involve your company in are fundamentally unsustainable and are incompatible with a stable climate.

We respectfully signal our intent to fight to prevent these projects being built and to ensure that the vast carbon stores of the Galilee Basin remain safely sequestered in the ground where they belong.

The vast coal reserves of the Galilee Basin must remain in the ground if the world is to have any chance of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and of maintaining the kind of stable climate upon which much life, and our civilization depends.

There is no way to build a rail line to open up the Galilee Basin in a ‘sustainable’ manner. There is no way to build a new thermal coal export port in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area in a ‘sustainable’ manner.

In March, Aurizon and Indian mining giant GVK announced a partnership that will see them build $6 billion worth of rail and port infrastructure for mining projects in Queensland.

Under the new deal the two companies will build a 500km rail line from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point, with Aurizon, formerly QR National, providing railway logistics and GVK providing financial backing.

The deal means Aurizon will take a 51 per cent share in Hancock Coal Infrastructure, which houses GVK Hancock's rail and port projects.

Many say the new network will help deliver access to the under-developed Galilee Basin, considered to be the new frontier in Queensland mining.

GVK Hancock group managing director Paul Mulder told Australian Mining the company is well positioned to sustain a viable and profitable operation no matter the economic climate.

“We’re the frontrunner in the Galilee Basin, we’re the only ones who have Native Title approved, we have a power source, a water source, an EIS granted for the mine, railway and the port from the State and Federal Governments,” he said.

“We’re the only ones that have all of that all together and we’re staring down the barrel of our final environmental approval at the port being a dredge and relocation approval and we’re seeking our mining lease, no one else has that position.”

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