Rio and Glencore warn changes to QLD planning laws jeopardise mining jobs

Kestrel mine in Queensland's Bowen Basin

Mining powerhouses Rio Tinto and Glencore are warning new Queensland planning laws threaten future project development and put hundreds of mining jobs at risk.

The Regional Planning Interests bill introduced in November last year aims to regulate the impacts of resources projects on areas of regional interest including significant agricultural and environmental zones.

In its submission to the Queensland Government Glencore said it is concerned the legislation in its current form threatens recent green tape reduction initiatives.

“Glencore considers the bill if enacted will act in direct contradiction with the Government’s stated intention to introduce policy that enables sustainable resources development in Queensland,” the company stated.

The Swiss giant said the bill will hurt investor certainty, extend approval timeframes, and make a number of projects uneconomic including its $200 million proposed Rolleston expansion project.

Under the new bill almost half of the Rolleston project falls within cropping land and priority agricultural areas.

Glencore fears the proposed changes could force Rolleston to shut as early as next year.

Closing the mine would see over 800 jobs lost and 825 million tonnes of coal forfeited, taking with it millions of dollars’ worth of state revenue.

“Over half of Glencore coal’s current Queensland holdings are likely to be impacted in some way by the bill if passed,” the company said.

Rio Tinto’s coal division which operates Hail Creek, Kestrel and Clermont mines in Queensland stated that after facing considerable economic headwinds it is only recently beginning to improve productivity and reduce costs.

“While we have made progress, challenging conditions prevail and we can ill afford additional burdens, particularly additional regulation that creates further business uncertainty,” the company stated.

Rio’s coal business warns the planning changes will impact its recently opened $2 billion Kestrel South project and is calling on the government to secure existing mining rights.

Kestrel – like Glencore’s Rolleston project, falls within the western cropping zone.

Rio Tinto Alcan also pled its case with the state government, explaining the legislation has the potential to hamstring resource availability and undermine investor confidence.

Rio said one of its primary concerns is the impact the bill would have on its Weipa bauxite mine on the Cape York Peninsula 

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