AS DESERT Uplands residents and the Bimblebox Nature Refuge sift through thousands of pages from Clive Palmer's Waratah Coal mine supplementary Environmental Impact Statement, their saviour could be a small bird.
The $6 billion dollar project's existence relies on securing the "critical" coal reserves on the refuge.
Without access to those reserves the coal mine is "unviable", the latest environmental report says.
However, the same report warns Bimblebox "contains the last substantial population" of the endangered black-throated finch.
The life of a species and a coal mine teeters on the edge of destruction and both rely on having access to the Bimblebox Nature Refuge.
It is clear both cannot co-exist and share the 8000ha refuge.
Clearing for the open-cut mine and its facilities at Bimblebox is estimated to be 4017ha and a further 3422ha will be affected by subsidence from underground mining.
Co-owner of the refuge and local landowner Paola Cassoni is determined to preserve the priceless biodiversity she watches over.
"I must protect what is irreplaceable," Paola said.
"The future for myself, my family and my community is on the land.
"I don't think communities should hold out hope for the economic saviour of mining because time and time again small communities are decimated."
Bimblebox became a refuge in 2000 when state and federal governments agreed to protect it.
The supplementary EIS is online at waratahcoal.com. Submissions close May 6.