February 10, 2016
More than 900 people at a public meeting at Kingaroy Town Hall on Tuesday night voted emphatically against a proposed new coal mine near the town.
The meeting was organised by the Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group (KCCG) to discuss Moreton Resources’s plan to build an open cut coal mine near Kingaroy.
KCCG President Gary Tessmann, who opened the meeting, said the enormous attendance showed there was great interest and concern about the proposal.
He said the purpose of the meeting was to gather the community’s feedback, which would then be documented and presented to Mining Minister Dr Anthony Lynham and Shadow Mining Minister Andrew Cripps, as well as Moreton Resources and Stanwell Corporation.
Compere John Dalton said all mining companies needed a “social licence” to operate.
“This is granted by the goodwill of the community, and it depends on informed knowledge,” he said.
Mr Dalton then gave a presentation covering what the KCCG knew about the project, which was similar to a presentation the group gave to 100 people at its Annual General Meeting at Taabinga last month.
That presentation caused such alarm that after seeing it, audience members donated $1200 to fund Tuesday night’s Town Hall meeting.
In brief, the KCCG said they believed if the mine goes ahead it would generate unacceptable noise, light, dust and visual pollution that would affect most residences in Kingaroy; and property values would fall as a result.
Other suggested drawbacks included the loss of prime agricultural land, forced property resumptions, potential water pollution issues, a loss of State Government royalties, and impacts on Kingaroy Airport and the Kingaroy Observatory.
Moreton Resources CEO Jason Elks was given a brief opportunity to speak at the meeting, responding to two questions posed by the KCCG and then speaking about the project in general.
In response to the KCCG’s assertion that Moreton would not be able to profitably mine coal at a projected $50 per tonne, Mr Elks said the company had based its projections on information supplied by Access Economics and expert mining consultants, and stood by them.
Answering a question about what social and environmental benefits the mine might bring to the area, Mr Elks said he believed the mine would help generate jobs and growth.
He said a fully operational mine would create between 1000 and 1100 direct and indirect jobs.
Speaking more generally about the project, Mr Elks said Moreton was a small company with about 2400 shareholders, some of them local residents.
He said the project was all about generating economic growth in the region.
After the main KCCG presentation, the meeting then heard from Dennis Cotter, who said he had spent many years valuing rural and rural residential properties in the area.
Mr Cotter said that in his opinion, property values would definitely fall if the mine went ahead.
Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said he also had concerns about the project.
He thought the mine’s proximity to Kingaroy, the airport and rural residential areas was unsuitable; and that the good relationship the South Burnett had with Stanwell Corporation would be damaged if another coal mine began operating in the region.
However, his principal concern was that the proposal had the potential to cause as much division in the community as a proposed wind farm at Cooranga North had caused there.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said she thought there had been a lot of misinformation about the project before the night’s meeting.
She also thought the company should begin baseline monitoring as soon as possible, so that if the project did proceed its real impacts could be directly measured.
But she reminded the audience that less than 1 per cent of mining proposals ever become mines.
She thought it was unlikely Moreton’s proposal would eventuate, given the project’s proximity to Kingaroy and the many hurdles it would face.
After this, the floor was thrown open to audience members to air their opinions or ask questions.
Almost 20 people took up the offer, voicing concerns covering everything from the mine’s possible effect on local health, aquifers and native wildlife through to its potential impacts on tourism, the need to retain prime agricultural land and the general desire of South Burnett residents to continue enjoying a country lifestyle.
The meeting wound up with a vote by show of hands about whether the community wanted the mine proposal to be scrapped, which drew overwhelming support.