MacMines gains environmental approval for $6.7bn QLD coal mine

MacMines Austasia has received the environmental nod from the Queensland Government for its greenfield China Stone coal mine in the Galilee Basin.

The proposed $6.7 billion mine is expected to deliver 3900 construction jobs and 3400 operational jobs to the region if it is developed.

Queensland’s coordinator-general Barry Broe, who conditionally approved the project, said in an environmental impact statement (EIS) that “there are significant local, regional and state benefits to be derived from the China Stone coal project”.

The conditions for approval include the progressive rehabilitation of land used by the mine for animal grazing and habitats, and backfilling of open-cut mine pits to minimise groundwater impacts.

MacMines, which is owned by Chinese company Meijin Energy Group, has estimated that the project would bring $1.7 billion a year to the Northern and Mackay regions.

China Stone is around 300km west of Mackay and just 30km from Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal project.

It is expected to produce up to 38 million tonnes a year of thermal coal for export to Asian markets and has an estimated mine life of 50 years.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane, in welcoming the approval, said that “every new investment in the resources sector is good news for Queensland”.

“That means more high-paying jobs for regional Queenslanders, especially in places like Mackay, Townsville and Rockhampton,” Macfarlane said.

“There are up to six mines that could open in the Galilee Basin. That’s just the shot in the arm that regional towns need.”

Like Adani’s nearby Carmichael project, China Stone has faced some criticism from environmental groups.

Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive officer Kelly O’Shanassy commented negatively on the EIS approval and compared China Stone to Adani’s project.

“The Queensland Government has failed to protect our communities by giving this mine a tick. The federal government must now reject it through national environment law,” she said.

“All our elected representatives must work to stop the Adani coal mine, stop China Stone, and ensure not one tonne of Galilee coal is dug up and burnt so we can begin halting global warming and protect the people, communities and natural world that we love.”