Plans for a 2km mining buffer zone is unworkable according to the Blackwater Community Progress Group.
Plans for a 2km mining buffer zone is unworkable according to the Blackwater Community Progress Group. Rebekah Polley

Buffer pleases no one

THE Blackwater Community Progress Group has slammed Premier Anna Bligh’s introduction of an urban buffer zone for mining exploration, suggesting the 2km will make little difference with the proposed Minyango project on the town’s southern border.

“Two kilometres is absolutely not big enough, if this government was fair dinkum on the issue they would be pushing it out to 5km at least,” BCPG president Kev Cracknell said.

“We would certainly make the call for a bigger (buffer) zone.”

Mr Cracknell said residents raised concerns at a meeting last Tuesday about the possibility of coal dust from the project engulfing the town after it was revealed Caledon Resources aimed to place its infrastructure along the northern boundary of the site, the side closest to Blackwater.

“We deal with strong southerly winds and they want to put a stockpile and surface infrastructure less than 1km away, that extra 1000m won’t make a difference either,” Mr Cracknell said.

“How the state government approved such a ludicrous mine is beyond me.

Last Monday Premier Bligh announced that no mining would be allowed in and around urban areas with a population of 1000 or more, with the restriction to cover both existing and new exploration permits.

A Caledon spokesman said the company was currently assessing the implications of the changes to exploration licenses.

“The EIS is the next step before the Minyango project can receive State Government approval to proceed. It is our responsibility in the EIS process to explain the impacts and the benefits of the project to the local community and to help them understand how the impacts will be managed. To do this, we expect to consult extensively with the local community about a range of aspects of the project,” he said.

The state’s biggest mining lobby group, the Queensland Resource Council, claimed that an area larger than Wales has been declared immediately off limits to current and future minerals and energy exploration in Queensland, without industry consultation.

QRC acting chief executive Greg Lane said about 10% of the state’s existing exploration permits would be declared null and void, signalling another blow to the state’s plummeting reputation as a safe exploration investment destination.

“The bottom line for good governance is that legally granted tenure should be allowed to run its course… this is another disheartening signal to domestic and global exploration industries while the state continues to promote itself as aspiring to be the exploration capital of Australia,” Mr Lane said.

He said there are more questions than answers after the Premier’s announcement last week.

Mr Cracknell urged the government to reconsider the buffer zone, and said the proposed Minyango project could have a long and disastrous legacy for Blackwater, if allowed to operate so close to town.

“We want to see development in town, we want the community to benefit along with industry, but we are completely against foolish or quick decisions that are going to negatively affect us,” Mr Cracknell said.

Towns adjacent to resource operations have one month to opt out of the exclusion zone plan covering centres with populations of more than 1000 outside south-east Queensland.

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