Farmers ‘cautiously joyous’ after Queensland food bowl is deemed no place for ‘big, dirty coal mine’

It is a region famous for feeding the nation, and the Queensland government is deeming the food bowl too valuable for a "great big dirty coal mine." 

Key points:The Resources Minister deems a proposed North Bundaberg coal mine as not in the public interest Fox Resources has the right of reply before the Minister makes a final decision Farmers and community members are "cautiously joyous" after years of opposing the plan

Resources Minister Scott Stewart has delivered a preliminary review that says coal exploration north of Bundaberg is not in the public interest.

It comes after the company Fox Resources applied for a mineral development licence (MDL) between Moore Park Beach and Avondale.

Local MP Tom Smith said the proposed development did not stack up.

"Effectively this means that there is a decision from the Minister that the Palaszczuk government will not support MDL 3040, pending a right of reply by Fox Resources," he said.

"We need to make sure that it stacks up socially, environmentally and economically — the preliminary view from the Resources Minister is that it does not meet those standards.

"[As for] tourism … we do not want people who are travelling up from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast skipping over Bundaberg because they have concerns about a great big, dirty coal mine at the base of the Great Barrier Reef."

A clean shaven man with short brown hair, wearing a blue and white checked shirt with a Labor party name tag.
Tom Smith says the community is concerned about the impact a coal mine would have.(ABC News: Nicole Hegarty)

Farmers rejoice

Local cane grower Judy Plath said farmers were "cautiously joyous" following the news.

"This is a really, really good news story for the Bundaberg region to know that the state government has listened to our concerns and put prime agricultural land and our precious water supply ahead of a coal mine," she said.

"We know it's a preliminary decision; the company Fox Resources may choose to go with an appeal and we could have a different outcome."

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Ms Plath said she had been lobbying against a Bundaberg coal mince since it was first proposed in 2019.

"This has been a really broad community campaign," she said.

"We had the Bundaberg Regional Council unanimously support a motion to oppose the coal mine, and we've had a community group based around Moore Park who have been very vocal expressing their concerns for water quality along the coastline.

"If they do decide to go with an appeal, this community will fight that appeal with everything we have."

Husband and wife in caps smiling
Jeff and Judy Plath say a coal mine would threaten their cane farm and water supply.(Supplied: Judy Plath)

What comes next? 

Mr Smith said Fox Resources could appeal before a final decision was made.

"So right now Fox Resources have a period of time agreed between themselves and the Minister to write a right of appeal if they choose to," he said.

"From that decision, the Minister will make that absolute final decision."

Stephen Bennett, the LNP Member for Burnett, said it was a step in the right direction for the Bundaberg and Burnett regions.

"However the battle is not over yet, with the whole process revealing just how flawed and crooked the laws around mining in prime agricultural land really are," he said.

Fox Resources has been contacted for comment.

It previously said the MDL would not give it the right to begin mining but to evaluate the development potential of the area.

It is unknown if the company will lodge an appeal.

Posted 5 Nov 20215 Nov 2021Fri 5 Nov 2021 at 5:48amShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp

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