June Norman walked from Cairns to Gladstone to protest the impact on the Great Barrier Reef.
June Norman walked from Cairns to Gladstone to protest the impact on the Great Barrier Reef. Contributed

Farmers join fight against massive Gina Rinehart mine

QUEENSLAND farmers have joined forces with a community group to fight a multi-billion-dollar open coal mine by Australia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart.

Coast and Country Association of Queensland will appear in the Land Court of Queensland to argue against approval of 30 million tonne per year GVK Hancock open cut Alpha Coal mine in Central-West Queensland's Galilee Basin.

The legal challenge is based on impacts of the mine on groundwater in the region, on climate through burning of the huge quantities of coal the mine will produce, and impacts on the economy.

The three-week case will be heard by the Queensland Land Court.

In addition to the mine, the $10 billion Alpha Coal Project includes a 500km rail line linking the mine to a new coal port at Abbot Point, near Bowen, Queensland near the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef.

The court case is about the impacts and potential impacts of the mine, not the supporting infrastructure.

Coast and Country spokesperson Derec Davies said: "This proposed mine is of a massive scale.

"The mining lease area is over 60,000 hectares and the mining footprint to be directly mined is around 24 kilometres long by 7 kilometres wide.

"We are concerned about the potential severe impacts this open-cut mega-mine will have on groundwater, farmland, the Australian economy and on climate change."

"Australia's richest woman has partnered with a huge Indian conglomerate to extract profit from coal at a time when action to reduce carbon emissions is critical. The vast majority of the profits of this mine will go overseas."

Local farmer Peter Anderson said agricultural industry in the area depended on the groundwater.

"It's going to remove up to 176 billion litres of water over its lifetime and deplete the groundwater table by up to 5 metres in a 20km radius from the mine, which will have a devastating impact on farm viability,'' Mr Anderson said.

Professor Ian Lowe, renowned climate scientist said expanding coal mining was "criminally irresponsible".

"It is a crime against the environment and a crime against future generations."

Queensland grandmother June Norman, 72, who recently walked from Cairns to Gladstone to draw public attention to the destructive impact that coal and CSG exports will have on the Great Barrier Reef, has joined Coast and Country to mount the challenge.

She said, "I just don't understand, why are we allowing international companies to come here and establish a coal export industry that is contributing to the end of the Great Barrier Reef. GVK and Hancock are in this for the profit, it's our grandchildren and their kids who will have to live with the long term consequences."

Coast and Country Association of Qld Inc. was formed in 2012 with the aim to protect Queensland's environment and its natural wonders.

A number of expert witnesses, including Professor David Karoly and Associate Professor John Webb will provide evidence on the likely impacts of the Alpha Coal Mine, including on its depletion of groundwater and contribution to climate change.

The Federal Government Environment Minister approved the project in August 2012.

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