City mining exploration bid canned by minister

James Nason, 22/06/2011

An application lodged by a mining company to explore for coal in an area covering the city of Toowoomba on Queensland’s Darling Downs will not approved, the Queensland Government has announced.

As reported on Beef Central earlier this week, Civil and Mining Resources recently lodged an application to explore for coal in an area that included the northern half of Toowoomba, a city of 120,000 people.

Queensland Mining Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said today the Civil and Mining Resources’ application was largely speculative and would not be approved.

Mr Hinchliffe made the announcement before attending a mining exhibition at the Toowoomba Showgrounds, an area that is also covered by an existing coal seam gas exploration permit held by BNG Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Arrow Energy.

Rural land and urban protection groups rallied yesterday outside the exhibition in protest of the blanket coverage of coal and coal seam gas exploration permits across the Darling Downs, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country.

Environmental and farmland protection campaigner Drew Hutton said he believed it was the first time a mining exploration application permit had been rejected in Queensland.

“It is the first one I have heard of,” he said.

Mr Hutton, a founder of the Australian Greens political party, is a university lecturer in politics and environmental studies and now actively campaigns against mining impacts on environmentally sensitive areas and prime agricultural land.

Yesterday afternoon Mr Hutton was part of a delegation that met with Mr Hinchliffe, whom Mr Hutton once taught as a lecturer in political ideology at the Queensland University of Technology.

The delegation asked the minister to expand its initiative to include the banning of exploration permits on all residential areas, good agricultural land, underground and surface water and environmentally sensitive areas.

In a media statement announcing the decision not approve the Toowoomba coal mining exploration permit, Mr Hinchliffe said the entire mining exploration process was currently under review by the Queensland Government.

Exploration permits that were already granted would continue to be valid but very closely scrutinised if they ever progressed to an application for mining lease.

“Limits on exploration already exclude areas close to people’s homes and the success rate for exploration is historically very low,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“But there are community concerns and that’s why I’ve directed senior mines staff to investigate if guidelines for exploration near populated urban centres need to be changed,” he said. 

Property Rights Australia vice-president Lee McNicholl said the issue of coal and coal seam gas mining impacts would be discussed in detail at this Saturday's PRA annual conference at Roma.


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