AgForce CEO Mike Guerin (Photo: AgForce)

February 26, 2024

AgForce is urging Federal and State MPs to step in to stop Australia’s largest freshwater resource, the Great Artesian Basin, from being “pumped with industrial waste” by mining giant Glencore.

“It beggars’ belief that one of the natural wonders of the world, the mighty Great Artesian Basin, could be under threat in this way,” AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said.

Glencore has proposed a trial to capture carbon dioxide created at the Millmerran coal-fired power station.

The gas would be liquified and transported by road to a storage well near Moonie, then injected into an aquifer about 2.3km underground.

Glencore says 330,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide would be injected into a “high-fluoride, brackish water aquifer” over three years.

“The impacts on the (Precipice Sandstone) aquifer are minor and local,” a company statement released in November said.

“We understand the importance of water access and management to the agricultural community and it’s important to state that there are no impacts predicted to current or potential groundwater users of the Great Artesian Basin.”

However, AgForce – Queensland’s peak rural organisation – disagrees.

“This proposal is akin to pumping industrial waste into the Great Barrier Reef – could we imagine any Australian leader sitting back to let that happen? No way!,” Mr Guerin said.

“Let’s be clear, the lifeblood of inland Australia is under threat and that’s why we’ve stepped up to defend it. Every one of us should be outraged by what’s on the table being considered.

“As far as we’re concerned, the Great Artesian Basin is a ‘no go zone’ far too precious to be tampered with and potentially damaged with no recourse. What’s proposed by Glencore is simply not worth the risk and it should be scrapped immediately.

“There’s concrete scientific evidence that carbon dioxide – which is in the industrial waste – reacts with underground rock, releasing stored toxins including arsenic and lead, to levels in the water that make it unsafe and even lethal.

“It’s not every day that environmentalists, farmers, and Queenslanders, can stand side by side with regional and rural communities on an issue.

“But here we are united in opposition to this reckless and dangerous plan. That clearly demonstrates how on the nose this proposal really is.”

Mr Guerin called for donations to fund potential Federal Court action.

“AgForce welcomes donations as it prepares to take the matter to the Federal Court, if we cannot convince our MPs that this proposal must be stopped,” he said.

“We will not hesitate to take this matter to court if this cannot otherwise be adequately resolved.”


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