Mining plans cause concern

LANDHOLDERS along the Mackenzie River are anxiously awaiting the outcome for a proposal by Jellinbah Group to expand its mining operations north across the waterway.

Concerns were expressed about the possible implications of developing the mine on a known floodplain.

Jellinbah representatives met with the Central Highlands Regional Council on Monday to deliver a presentation stating their case on the four mining lease applications lodged in the area north of the Mackenzie River.

In a similar move, they will meet with Isaac Regional Council yesterday.

Fitzroy Basin Association chair and Future Food representative Charlie Wilson said he was very concerned with the plans after studying the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation proposal by Jellinbah.

“This looks like another development that could cause serious problems for agricultural land nearby,” Mr Wilson said.

“Open-cut mining is a risky business along that river.

“I’ve looked at the aerial diagrams and they are very concerning.

“The development sits right on the edge of the river and it is a known floodplain.

“The levees will be right on the edge of the water and it could mess with farmers and their existing water flows.

“We could see increased water elevation and an extreme increase in water speed flowing through that area.

“We’re not anti-mining, we’re about sustainable development that does not wreck things and pass the consequences onto others.

“All I can say is that we support any development that is done right and properly, and we have some serious concerns with this proposal.”

Jellinbah Group chief executive Greg Chalmers rejected claims the extension could worsen effects of possible future floods, citing the group’s flood mitigation plan to stagger development in an effort to minimise the effect on existing water flow conditions as evidence.

“We are confident that we can maintain the current impact levels, especially with the up-to-date data we have after recent events,” Mr Chalmers said.

“This will be an open-cut project done in stages because we need to leave somewhere for the river to flow.

“This is business as usual, it’s just in a different geography. Mackenzie North is an extension of the existing operation, not an expansion.”

Mr Chalmers said all the water and power for the extension would be provided by existing supplies from the site south of the river and that minimal infrastructure will be built on the new site, reducing environmental impacts.

All coal would be transported across a proposed 150-metre bridge still in its planning stage that will exist as a valuable community asset and will leave a “future beneficial legacy” as a river crossing in times of flood, Mr Chalmers said. He said Jellinbah Group was a community-minded company that would have no problem allowing vehicles to use the bridge in times of severe flooding.

Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor Peter Maguire questioned Mr Chalmers on the possibility of the development affecting other properties along the Mackenzie River.

Mr Chalmers said the surface water management plan, based on up-to-date data, showed development would occur in a staged basis to manage flood impacts up and downstream.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Cedric Marshall said Jellinbah representatives would have to convince him they would not be affecting existing agricultural operations in the region.

“There are irrigators down that way and I will expect them to prove that there will be minimal impact on those operations,” Cr Marshall said.

Cr Marshall said he would “wait and see” what Jellinbah’s plans for the area were, and he would be more informed after today’s presentation.

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