December 20, 2016
Moreton Resources’ controversial proposal to build a new coal mine near Kingaroy moved a step closer this week.
The Office of the Coordinator-General released the Terms Of Reference on Monday for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the document the company is required to prepare for the project.
This is the first step in a formal process to examine the Moreton’s plans in depth.
If Moreton can satisfy all the requirements of an EIS, the project could receive formal Government approval to proceed.
Managing Director Jason Elks, from MRV Tarong Basin Coal Pty Ltd – a fully owned subsidiary of Moreton Resources Ltd – said he was pleased the Terms Of Reference had been released.
“This milestone, which has taken approximately seven months to get to, now gives this project a clear and definitive pathway forward in pursuit of its approvals and permits,” Mr Elks said.
He said this would allow for a final investment decision, which he hoped would occur in 2018-2019, depending on objections and levels of support for the project across the region.
Mr Elks said the company would now look at putting together a final project team to prepare the EIS, and hoped to appoint a project manager and team in the coming four to eight weeks.
“As we progress through this now very clear and definitive process, we will maintain open channels of communication with the wider South Burnett community, as we have been to date, ensuring they are kept well informed of all project advancements and the tremendous benefits this project will bring, should a final investment decision be forthcoming,” Mr Elks said.
Mr Elks said the company had clearly stated it intended to hire locally and use local services and infrastructure wherever possible to ensure that surrounding communities reaped the benefits of the project.
“Whilst we are still a long way from a final investment decision, we are certainly well on the way and we have set some very aggressive time lines for completion of our studies, permits and approvals,” Mr Elks said.
“Historically, communities situated near a mine have benefited from increased economic stimulus, increased land values and have enjoyed more employment opportunities.
“The South Burnett will be no different, however these things will not happen overnight. But we now have a clear path forward.”
“Like many others in our community, I’m very concerned the proposed site for the open-cut coal mine is on prime agricultural land and its 4km proximity to Kingaroy,” Mr Littleproud said on Tuesday afternoon.
“Quite simply, there’s a lack of community support for this project.
“But today’s announcement – that Moreton Resources has been formally issued a ‘terms of reference for an environmental impact statement’ – is merely one step in a very lengthy legislative process.”
Mr Littleproud counselled patience for anyone worried the project might be close to approval.
“Soon the proposed mine will be opened up for public consolation, and I urge everyone to make their voice heard on this issue,” he said.
“There will be ample opportunity for you to contribute during this consultation process, and from what I’ve witnessed, the Kingaroy community has already proven itself a well-coordinated and effective team in voicing their opposition to this project.”
Mr Littleproud said he was not opposed to mining, but thought the project was inappropriate for the region.
“I do oppose a mine so close to town and on prime agricultural land,” he said.
“I’ll continue to fight for economic development in the South Burnett by supporting the agriculture sector, growing small business and supporting families, but this mine is not the answer.”