Mackay Conservation Group community organiser Michael Kane.
Mackay Conservation Group community organiser Michael Kane.

Group fears $1bn Olive Downs mine will be another Adani

BOTH levels of government are being urged to stop the political "argy bargy" surrounding a $1 billion Queensland coal mine.

Mackay Conservation Group community organiser Michael Kane fears history is repeating itself as the Queensland Government and Federal Government continue to argue back and forth on the approvals process of the Olive Downs Coal Mine near Moranbah.

"This is what happened with the Adani mine," Mr Kane said.

"Both state and federal governments criticised the approvals process … The environmental process has become politicised."

State Development Minister Cameron Dick told parliament yesterday that there had been an "inexplicable and scandalous refusal" by the Morrison Government to tick off environmental approvals for the mine that should have taken 30 days.

"It is (Federal Environment Minister Sussan) Ley's concern over the squatter pigeon and other fauna that is holding up this significant project," Mr Dick said.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick.
State Development Minister Cameron Dick.

Queensland's independent Coordinator-General approved the Pembroke Resources' project, expected to create 500 full-time equivalent jobs during construction and 1000 full-time equivalent operational jobs, on May 13, 2019.

Federal environmental approval was due 30 business days later on June 24.

The same month, the delegate of the minister agreed to "stop the clock" on the 30-business-day assessment processes to request further information from the proponent.

This included impact assessments for animal species the koala, greater glider, squatter pigeon, ornamental snake and Australian painted snipe.

A spokesman for Ms Ley said the department was finalising its assessment of "these four large-scale and complex projects" which included consideration of the "direct cumulative habitat clearance" of almost 6000 hectares of koala habitat.

MAP: Olive Downs Coal Mine.
MAP: Olive Downs Coal Mine.

"Once the assessments are complete, the minister or her delegate will consider approval of the four projects under national environmental law," the spokesman said.

"It is anticipated that the proposed decisions of approval will be made in early 2020."

Mr Kane said it was important to ensure environmental approvals were properly assessed, particularly given the recent loss of animal habitat from the bushfires.

"Arbitrary deadlines don't necessarily mean good outcomes for the environment," he said.

In a statement, Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to "end the standstill".

"I understand the project is ready to start construction within two months of receiving final approvals from the Morrison Government," she said.

"They just need to get on with it."