Thursday 18 August 2011

Wilderness Society calls for mine rejections in Cape York

Heather Beck
Thursday, August 18, 2011
© The Cairns Post

COAL mine boom in Cape York could provide an exciting opportunity to diversify the region 

The Wilderness Society has called for both Labor and the LNP to reject leases for coal mining in Cape York.

The environmental lobby group says there is a "disturbing" rise in applications for coal mining exploration, including on land surrounding one of Queensland's largest national parks, Rinyirru.

There are 19 coal exploration tenements on Cape York, with 12 applications made in the past month and a half.

One of the permits around Rinyirru has been applied for by Queensland billionaire Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal.

Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott has seen the benefit of the proposed coal mines and said many of the projects on the Cape were being driven by traditional owners.

"Up in Cook Shire we’re a very large shire with a very small population and income base,’’ Cr Scott said.

"We rely very much on seasonal tourism with a bit of agriculture and horticulture thrown in, so anything that can provide us with a sustainable income and allow us to diversify our income is very exciting."

He said the means of accessing the coal would be through portal long wall mining, which has less environmental impact than large open-cast mines.

"The traditional owners up there are also very much in tune with the land and what happens to it," he said.

"And at council, any proposal that comes to us has to meet 80 pieces of legislation, that’s the degree of protection that’s out there at the moment."

Wilderness Society campaigner Gavan McFadzean said any coal mining operations in the region could undermine the Queensland and Federal governments’ efforts to have Cape York declared a World Heritage Area.

"Cape York Peninsula has become the next big target for the coal industry,’’ he said.

"The sick irony is that while the community has been working hard on protecting the World Heritage values of Cape York Peninsula, the coal industry is busy plotting to dig up the very same areas."

Mining Minister Stirling Hinchinliffe said no decisions had been made whether to grant or reject the applications.

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