Controversial coal mine gets green light for EIS
A CONTROVERSIAL coal mine near Kingaroy that will extract five million tonnes a year has been given the green light to advance through the legislative approvals process.
MRV Tarong Basin Coal Pty Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Moreton Resources Limited, today announced it had formally been notified of its "terms of reference for an environmental impact statement".
The company also stated the Office of the Coordinator General had advised it would be seeking a community consultation and engagement plan.
Moreton Resources said the plan would ensure adequate stakeholder communication and consultation and welcomed the request.
A spokesman said the project had regional and state-wide significance.
MRV Tarong Basin Coal managing director Jason Elks said the milestone had taken about seven months to get to.
He said the project had a clear and definitive pathway forward in pursuit of its approvals and permits, which in turn would allow for a final investment decision.
Mr Elks said a decision could be made by 2018, depending upon the objections processes and levels of support across the region.
He said support for the project had been strong and was welcomed by the company.
Mr Elks said there would be tremendous employment, economic and community capacity-building benefits if the mine was built.
A public meeting was held in Kingaroy on February 11 in which a packed-house of residents unanimously indicated their opposition to the plan.
A group opposed to the mine, Kingaroy Concerned Citizens, formed after the proposal was made public.
The group's spokesman, John Dalton, said the community meeting had proved that proponents Moreton Resources had no social licence from residents for the proposal.
"People identified the enormity of the impact this mine would have on our town," he said at the time.
"Irrespective of any benefit you could come up with, the feeling is that the proposed location of the mine is way too close."
Mr Dalton said the group's concerns about the mine included the limited market for the coal, the location outside of the Kingaroy and the potential impact on some of the best cropping land in the district.
He said polling about community support conducted by his group and by Member for Nanango Deb Frecklinton ran counter to the information provided by Moreton Resources.
"The community of Kingaroy does not support this project."
Mr Dalton said there were three things that would scuttle the planned project - the position of the mine close to Kingaroy and near a water supply, the lack of market for coal and lack of infrastructure to transport coal.
Mr Elks said the company would be seeking to formulate a final project team to bring this part of the project to fruition, and as such would be looking to appoint the relevant project manager and also project team in coming months.
Mr Elks said: "As we progress through this now very clear and definitive process, we will maintain open channels of communication with the wider South Burnett community - as we have been to date."
He said the company would work to ensure the community was kept well informed of all project advancements and the tremendous benefits this project would bring, should final investment decision be forthcoming.
"As has been our very clear and transparent messaging all the way along, it is a mandate of the company to hire local and utilise local services and infrastructure wherever possible, ensuring the surrounding communities reap the benefits of such an operation.
"While we are still a long way from a final investment decision, we are certainly well on the way and we have set some very aggressive time lines for completion of our studies, permitting and approvals."
"Historically, communities situated near to a mine have benefited from increased economic stimulus, increased land values and have enjoyed more employment opportunities."
Mr Elks said the South Burnett community would be no different if the mine was built.
"However these things will not happen overnight, but we now have a clear path forward."
Moreton was previously known as Cougar Energy, a firm involved with underground coal gasification trials outside Kingaroy.