Friday, 2 September 2011

Cape York | Coal Mine

Fight looms over Cape York coal mine proposals

Daniel Bateman
Friday, September 2, 2011
© The Cairns Post

No way: Conservationists are preparing for a long and hard fight 
 to stop a coal mining bids in Cape York.

CONSERVATIONISTS say a battle to stop a proposed Cape York coal mine going ahead is shaping as one of their biggest fights yet.

Aus-Pac Capital Pty Ltd has lodged an application for environmental assessment with the Federal Government to develop an underground coal mine near Princess Charlotte Bay, 150km northwest of Cooktown.

Green groups, including the Wilderness Society, have likened the project to logging in the World-Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest.

The proposed mine was among 11 other applications made for coal mining exploration in Cape York in the past month and a half.

Aus-Pac Capital, which is wholly owned by aluminium smelter entrepreneur John Benson, has three applications for exploration permits lodged with the State Government.

Mr Benson did not return calls yesterday.

According to documents lodged with the Federal Government, Aust-Pac’s proposal – called the Wongai Project – would be a small-scale underground coal mine operation on 316ha of land returned to the Kalpowar people five years ago, that had previously been explored by other coal companies.

Aust-Pac Capital stated it was approached by traditional owners to investigate the feasibility of mining the land.

Up to 1.5 million tonnes a year would be mined from the site to ensure the longevity of the resource for future generations.

Wilderness Society campaigner Glenn Walker expressed concerns about the project.

"They haven’t done any exploration, yet they’re putting forward a proposal for a mine," Mr Walker said.
"It’s unclear how all of a sudden they’ve got to this stage.

"What is clear that it would be an absolute environmental disaster."

A Queensland Department of Mines spokesman said no decisions had been made by the Government whether to grant or reject the company’s exploration applications.

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