Media Release: Kevin's Corner decision fails to recognise cumulative impact

North Queensland Conservation Council today vowed to continue its fight to have the cumulative impacts of opening up the Galilee Basin to a clutch of new coal mines taken into account by having ‘Cumulative Impact Assessments’ thoroughly considered by governments charged with approving mining projects.

NQCC was an objector in the GVK Hancock Kevin’s Corner coal mine case in the Queensland Land Court. NQCC Coordinator Maree Dibella was speaking after learning of the decision to uphold approvals for a Mining Lease and an Environmental Authority for the project. Kevin’s Corner is a proposed 30 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) coal mine in the Galilee Basin that would cover over 37,000 hectares and be worked for 30 years (a period that the mining company defined as a ‘temporary interruption’ of other uses).

Kevin’s Corner mine is situated in the catchment of the Burdekin River which flows into coastal wetlands and the Great Barrier Reef. It is adjacent to the proposed 30 mtpa Alpha Mine, and about 120km south of Adani’s monster Carmichael Mine.

Ms Dibella says, “Miners and the Queensland government are bent on exploiting the Galilee Basin, with Adani’s mega-mine the biggest and ugliest contender. Unfortunately, regulators fail to look carefully at the combined impact these mines will have on Queensland’s water or the global climate. 

“Cumulative Impact Assessment helps ensure all potential impacts are assessed – to our economy, our precious environment and local communities. It avoids the phenomenon of ‘death by a thousand cuts’, whereby a number of ‘small’ negative impacts can together result in a major sore.

“We see the importance of cumulative impacts everywhere. As more and more habitat is lost we damage biodiversity. We watch as the Great Barrier Reef suffers from multiple pressures, ranging from sediment run-off to port development and global warming. The proliferation of coal mines across Central and Northern Queensland will also hasten the disastrous impacts of climate change.”

“Development does not occur in isolation, project by project. It occurs, and must be assessed, in context. Until we do this, our environment will continue to degrade as a number of ‘minor’ impacts accumulate.

“Even the mining company’s expert witness on cumulative impact assessment acknowledged at the Court hearing that the community wants assurance that mines such as Kevin’s Corner, when taking into account other impacts, will not create pressures that irrevocably damage our agricultural land, our water, our atmosphere, our native species and our society.

“In the Kevin’s Corner case, NQCC argued cumulative impacts could not be properly assessed because many of the required studies had not been done before approval was first given. Studies on everything from geomorphology to nature conservation and social impacts were simply not done, and other relevant developments had not been considered.

“Cumulative Impact Assessment is a major issue when it comes to development everywhere. NQCC will continue to fight to see it properly considered in all areas affecting the beautiful North Queensland environment” Ms Dibella said.

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In October 2015 NQCC was an objector to the approval of a Mining Lease and an Environmental Authority to Hancock Galilee Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the GVK Group, for its Kevin’s Corner mine in the Galilee Basin. The hearing was held in the Land Court of Queensland in Brisbane. NQCC was self-represented.

The mine is situated in the Galilee Basin in the catchment of the Burdekin River, which flows into wetlands and the Great Barrier Reef.

If it goes ahead, the mine would be one of the largest coal mines in Australia. It would produce 30 million tonnes of coal per annum for 30 years. The maximum disturbance area from the mine (not including the rail corridor) would be 37,380ha.

The basis of the NQCC objection was the alleged inadequacy of the cumulative impact assessment (CIA), done on behalf of Hancock Galilee Pty Ltd, as part of the EIS and SEIS for the project.

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