The extension would expand the mine into a forestry area (Map: Stanwell)
Qld Conservation Council director David Copeman (Photo: LinkedIn)

September 14, 2021

The Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) has called for the planned expansion of the Meandu coal mine to be scrapped.

Stanwell is proposing to extend the mine – which supplies the Tarong and Tarong North power stations – by about 186ha (7 per cent) within its existing mining lease.

The project, dubbed King 2 East, was recently referred to the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to determine whether it was considered a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC).

DAWE determined last week it is a controlled action, meaning assessment and approval from the Department is now required.

QCC director Dave Copeman told southburnett.com.au the expansion should be blocked for climate reasons.

However, the QCC also believed the mine extension would encroach into habitat of significant flora and fauna species, including the spotted-tail quoll, black-breasted button quail and an endangered vineforest tree, Cossina Australiana.

“If we replace the ageing Tarong Power Station with cheaper, cleaner renewable power and storage, we could preserve these threatened species and reduce Queensland’s carbon emissions in line with our international commitments,” Mr Copeman said.

“The glaring omission in the decision process is climate change.

“Extending the mine would allow Queensland’s ageing Tarong coal-fired power station to operate to 2037 and has serious consequences for the State’s carbon budget and greatest asset, the Great Barrier Reef.”

Mr Copeman called for long-term plans for cheaper, renewable energy in Queensland and certainty for South Burnett residents.

“We want a really clear timeline for when it will be shut down. Because of the politics of it, the government is not being explicit about the future.”

A Stanwell spokesperson said the Tarong power stations were among the youngest, and most efficient and reliable generators in the National Electricity Market.

Stanwell had identified King 2 East as the best option for providing coal to the power stations through to the forecast technical end of their lives.

“The project has a significantly smaller environmental impact than the establishment of new mining pits or a new coal mine and will provide substantial commercial and community benefits for the South Burnett region,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the majority of the King 2 East project area (about 90 per cent) was made up of softwood and hardwood plantations and cleared mixed grasslands, regrowth and tracks.

Remnant vegetation clearing would be restricted to a narrow corridor within the project area.

“Stanwell has set the project boundary to minimise impact to native vegetation as much as possible,” the spokesperson said.

“Stanwell takes a proactive approach to managing its environmental impacts and where any new impacts are identified we will proactively implement controls.

“Studies have been undertaken during each stage of the project to understand all potential impacts upon the environment and any native species.

“Stanwell has commenced a process of identifying potential offset properties within the local area (owned by Stanwell) to accommodate the environmental offset commitments that will emerge from the approval process for the King 2 East project.

“We recognise the importance of managing the land we operate on as productively and sustainably as possible.

“At Meandu Mine, our approach involves rehabilitating and restoring mined land progressively during the mine’s life. This aims to minimise the active area of our mining operations at any point in time and ensures that land can be effectively returned to a sustainable post-mining land use.

“In early September 2021, the Department of Environment and Science certified more than 150ha of progressive rehabilitation at Meandu Mine. To our knowledge, this is the largest native vegetation area approved in a single application in Queensland.”

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