Bandanna promises jobs and big bucks at Springsure Creek
IT'S Valentine's Day on Thursday but instead of roses that wilt, Bandanna Energy's managing director Michael Gray is holding out a live economic olive branch for central Queenslanders.
It comes with the promise of a billion-dollar windfall and 2000 new jobs - if the Springsure Creek coal project gets the go-ahead.
Determined to prove its point that farming and underground mining can co-exist in highly sensitive strategic cropping zones like the Golden Triangle, south of Emerald, Bandanna has forged ahead with a $10 million agricultural project at its wholly owned property, Den-Lo Park.
Already, paddocks of wheat, corn, mung beans, chickpeas and cotton are growing on top of what will possibly be an 11million tonnes-a-year underground thermal coal mine. Bandanna's Environmental Impact Statement was released today.
"Look we're not farmers… but this is a great challenge," Mr Gray said.
"I'm a pretty parochial Queenslander and I think this is a great opportunity we will miss if we continue to ignore the fact that farming and mining can happen together."
Subsidence is the word that strikes fear into the hearts of surrounding farmers.
Bandanna has launched a three-year $3m agricultural research plan to maintain, or improve, crop yield at Den-Lo Park. "This is good agricultural land and we recognise that the two industries... are important to the state and we are keen to ensure they can co-exist," Mr Gray said.
"We are saying there will be subsidence between one and two metres and much of the (Golden Triangle) land has been contoured and levelled or profiled, and there has been modification of water courses and streams by farmers to better utilise water.
"Drainage is the key and we will continue to work with farmers to look at ensuring we plan ahead of the subsidence to ensure it doesn't have any significant adverse effect on drainage."
A study by economic consultancy group AECgroup showed during the Springsure Creek mine's construction phase, 1022 full-time jobs would be generated from 2013-15, and about another 2100 jobs indirectly.
These included 380 direct full-time positions and 560 flow-on jobs in the Central Highlands, Rockhampton and Gladstone regional council areas.
"If this project proceeds, it will make a real difference to the prosperity of the surrounding region," Mr Gray said.
"And the ability of the government to provide the roads, hospitals and other services that central Queensland needs."