No tickets on BMA as it denies plan

BMA says it will not mine the Blackwater airport.
BMA says it will not mine the Blackwater airport.

MINING giant BMA has hit back at claims the company had plans to mine the Blackwater airport.

A spokeswoman for the company yesterday said there were no current plans to mine the area, 3km west of the town and therefore outside the State Government's 2km buffer zone of resource communities.

"While the airstrip is located on the Blackwater mine lease, BMA is not currently planning to mine the area," the spokeswoman said.

"BMA will inform and work with the community should there be any change to the situation.

"Since commercial flights to the Blackwater airport ceased last year, BMA has continued to maintain and make available the airstrip for emergency medical services, which is an important community service."

The spokeswoman stopped short of definitively ruling out the possibility the land would be mined in the future.

At present, the airport is used only by BMA-chartered flights and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

In the 12 months to November 1, the RFDS landed in Blackwater 110 times for medical evacuations of patients seeking urgent attention.

Blackwater Community Progress Group chairman Kev Cracknell said if the land was to be mined, the town would suffer another asset loss.

"Although commercial flights have not landed there in more than 16 months, it has still been able to be used by medical services," Mr Cracknell said.

"But if the land is mined, the vital service would be gone and for a community that is surrounded by a 24-hour industry, it would be a devastating blow."

Mr Cracknell questioned how Emerald could justify two commercial airlines while Blackwater residents had to drive 45 minutes to fly to Brisbane.

"As a community, that doesn't seem right," he said.

"During the floods, the airport was our lifeline when we were cut off for nine days, and that was with about 50% less of the community actually in town."

Skytrans confirmed on Friday it still deemed the Blackwater airport a viable market, and general manager Mike Thinee said the number of passengers in the past combined with the growth of the mining sector in the town could potentially justify daily services to Brisbane.

"The market would dictate what days to (fly) but I would have thought it would start with a three-a-week service, growing into about six a week (service)," he said.

"We (Skytrans) are still absolutely keen to provide an air service to Blackwater."

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