Doubts about plans

A MORANBAH resident has raised doubts over Hancock Prospecting’s plans to build a coal transportation railway from Alpha to Gladstone by early 2014.

The mine company has promised potential buyers if a sample test pit proves successful the site will produce 30 million tonnes a year of coal after a five-year ramp-up starting in early 2014.

But concerned resident Trent Deverell labelled the timeline unrealistic, and fears the company will just prolong road transportation of coal until the Alpha to Abbot Point railway line is completed.

“To build 450km of track across two or three big wet seasons is just not going to happen,” he said.

“Where the railway line is going to be built is in the middle of nowhere and the amount of rain that area gets, it’ll be hard enough to keep what they do complete from being washed away.

A Hancock Prospecting spokesperson said road transportation would only be for the duration of the sample project.

But Mr Deverell argued, whether or not the track was complete, once buyers get a product sample they’ll want the coal “tomorrow”.

“If these coal companies transport their product via rail, they pay the whole box and dice,” he said.

“But if they transport by roads – yes they pay for the truck hire, the drivers, and loading costs, but who picks up the tab for any road damage caused? The rate payer.”

Then there are the safety issues of road transportation, said Mr Deverell.

“Going down the Great Divide you certainly don’t want to be a car going in the other direction, or worse still, another truck.”

Mr Deverell said the last-minute rush to organise transportation demonstrated a lack of foresight.

“Hancock Prospecting has been sitting on this mine site for 30 years. They knew coal was going to be coming out of the ground. Now they want to try to do all of this in three weeks.

“If these mining companies can’t sort out a core thing like the transportation of their product, what chance have communities got that they will lift a finger when it comes to things less central to their business, like community infrastructure and housing?”

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