Posted by Jim on October 29, 2010
Wide Bay Greens spokesperson, Jim McDonald, was interviewed this week on Noosa Community Radio about a number of issues in the Wide Bay Sunshine Coast regions.
He referred to the Greens’ fishing policy which addresses the sustainability of the Australian commercial fishing industry and recreational fishing. He has expressed concerns previously about the media’s uncritical reporting of continual industry and political misrepresentation of the Greens’ policy. For example, the Noosa Journal recently failed to publish a rebuttal by Jim to a letter to the editor alleging that the Greens planned to ban all fishing. He pulls no punches in this interview .
Jim also talked about the implications of a lack of vision for the Mary Valley within the other political parties. It is an urgent issue as a matter of the national interest that needs to be addressed as part of a national food security strategy. None presently exists. The future of the Mary Valley is an issue that he addressed during the election campaign and he has recently raised the issue again in response to comments on the Mary Valley by Nicklin MP, Peter Wellington. This interview can be heard here .
During the election campaign, Jim was very active in supporting the Aldershot community against the open-cut coalmine Northern Energy Corporation proposes to be dug within a few kilometres of the town. He has continued his support for the community since being appointed the spokesperson for the Federal electorate of Wide Bay. This interview discusses several aspects of the development of coalmining in the region from Wolvi to Aldershot, along the Mary River at Munna Creek, Tiaro and Aldershot and in the Rainbow Beach – Tin Can Bay hinterland. Listen to the interview here .
He was also asked to comment on the Moy Pocket Quarry’s plans to become a central depot for explosives in the region. The Greens made a submission to Gympie Council opposing the project. This was reported on this website in August. The interview is recorded on the Noosa Community website here
Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, 29 October 2010
Posted by Jim on October 4, 2010
Coalmining threatens the Sunshine Coast, warned the Greens spokesperson for Wide Bay, Jim McDonald.
He said that Tiaro Coal Limited had already conducted aerial surveys in the Wolvi region, and recently reported to the Stock Exchange that it would soon commence exploration drilling in the district. It can do this under a coal exploration permit EPC967 issued by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Planning.
- Countryside near Wolvi [Photo, Jim McDonald]
The Greens raised coalmining along the Mary Valley as a major issue in the Wide Bay electorate during the recent federal election, and supported the Aldershot community near Maryborough in its fight against an open-cut coalmine just a couple of kilometres from their town.
“The Mary River is threatened by the strong possibility of open cut mines being dug from Munna Creek, one of its major tributaries in the Mary Valley, to Maryborough. That will have devastating effects on the ecology of the river, which is home to rare and threatened species, and on the internationally listed Great Sandy Wetlands, a sea grass environment that supports dugong, dolphins, prawns and fisheries.
“Now, the Sunshine Coast faces the intrusion of coalmining activity near the Noosa River catchment area. Coalmining has no place in coastal regions or where there is top quality farming land in Queensland.
Dr McDonald called upon the LNP spokesperson on the environment, Glen Elmes, and the Member for Wide Bay, Warren Truss, to reject open cut mining along the Mary River, the Cooloola Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
He said he doubted that they would do so, because the Nationals support coalmining in the region. “They certainly didn’t oppose the Colton Coal Mine during the Federal election.
“The Greens will fight the introduction of coalmines into our region.”
Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, Media Release, 4 October 2010
Coverage: Sunshine Coast Daily 5/10/10; Gympie Times 6/10/10; Noosa News 8/10/10
Posted by Jim on September 30, 2010
The Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management [DERM] has rejected an application for an open-cut coal mine a mere 2-3 kilometres from the township of Aldershot and just outside the Maryborough City Boundary. A DERM spokesperson is reported to have said that the main grounds for rejection of Northern Energy Corporation’s application and Environmental Management Plan were soil characteristics, groundwater and potential impacts to waterways.
This represents a major win for the Aldershot community, which has campaigned long and hard against the mine.
We congratulate the Aldershot community in its steadfast and savvy campaign against the Colton Coal Mine, an open cut mine that was to be dug on the community’s doorstep.
Without Aldershot and District against Mining’s [AADAM] campaign, Northern Energy Corporation’s plans for an extensive mine outside Aldershot and Maryborough might have slipped under the radar and been approved by the State Government.
They did not go it alone, though, and the Wide Bay Conservation Council is also to be congratulated in standing shoulder to shoulder with the community.
The same cannot be said for local politicians, none of whom openly opposed the mine, with the exception of a single Fraser Coast Regional Councillor. The only party that consistently fought against the mine on public health and environmental grounds was The Greens.
The coalmining issue in our region is not dead, however, and The Greens have already responded to the Tiaro Coal proposals to establish open-cut mines in the Munna Creek area in the Gympie Times.
The whole question of mines along the Mary River and its basin needs to be re-evaluated by the Bligh Labor Government before any more of the mining companies seek to exploit the Maryborough Coal Basin.
Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, 30 September 2010
Posted by Jim on July 10, 2010
I have writen to the Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, pointing out the environmental risks associated with the Colton Coal Mine outside Maryborough and Aldershot:
Northern Energy Corporation plans to develop a 200 metre deep open-cut coal mine adjacent to the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland in Hervey Bay. It is 3 km from the Susan River that flows into the Mary River and forms the Ramsar boundary. It is 3 km from the town of Aldershot and 7 km from Maryborough. The Corporation plans to pump excess water from a coalwash plant that is capable of processing 1.5 million tons of coal a year to Saltwater Creek that also flows into the Mary River estuary. This represents a major environmental threat as well as a health threat to nearby communities.
You refused approval for the Traveston Dam in the Mary Valley among other reasons “because it had the potential to impact on nationally listed threatened species, migratory species, the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland, and the World Heritage values of Fraser Island.”
The Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands on your Department’s website says the area covers significant seagrass habitat, which is “likely to be one of the most important habitat components for maintenance of the present ecological health and diversity exhibited by the region.”
These areas act as nursery and feeding grounds for prawns and fish, and feeding grounds for dugong and turtles. The Information Sheet also records sightings of Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins [Sousa Chinensis], pilot whales and false killer whales in the region.
Those Ramsar wetlands have come under an even greater threat from coalmining. Northern Energy Corporation has completed drilling assays in the Wallum landscape behind Hervey Bay and has applied to the Queensland Government for a mining lease for the establishment of a 100 million tonnes plus open-cut coal mine close to the Susan River boundary of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland.
The Susan River is critical to the health of the Great Sandy wetlands in the Mary River estuary. It has a small but significant inflow into the estuary and the wetlands. At least two species of dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin and the common dolphin use the Susan River.
The Susan River is a Queensland Declared Fish habitat. According to the Information Sheet, the Susan River and Maroom Fish Habitat Areas combine to protect (in part) tidal lands of approximately 28,000 ha in the centre of Great Sandy Strait.
The Susan river is also home to six species of mangroves, which are used extensively for honey production by commercial beekeepers.
The Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia listed potential threats from the levels of chemical pollutants and turbidity/siltation in the system as a result of increased urbanisation and agricultural activities. The threat of heavy metals and other pollutants from an open-cut coal mine intensifies the threats to the integrity of the ecology of the wetlands.
I therefore call upon you to intervene in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 before an election is called to prevent this mine being approved when the Government is in caretaker mode.
Posted by Jim on June 23, 2010
I refer to the announcement by Colton Coal Mine’s Managing Director, Keith Barker announcement that the mine would go ahead [“Fraser Coast Chronicle” 22 June 2010].
Residents in Maryborough would be advised to look at the experience of Singleton in the Upper Hunter Valley before they got too excited about the prospect of a mine outside the town.
The affect on children’s respiratory health in Singleton is that one in four children experience problems, almost twice the national average for respiratory problems in children of one in nine.
The affect on public health in Singleton reflects experience in mining communities overseas and there have been many research papers that have confirmed that the proximity of coal mines to a community will have an effect on public health for both adults and children.
The community at Aldershot have done their homework on this, which is why they have opposed the mine. The Colton Coal Mine will be a mere three kilometres from the town.
It is surprising that Warren Truss, the member for the Federal electorate of Wide Bay has been quiet on the issue. Large open-cut mines in remote Queensland are one matter. A two hundred metre deep mine close to cities on the Coast is another. Especially when the estimated reserves will mean many decades of mining.
When the Queensland Government considers Northern Energy Corporation’s application they will have to choose whether mining royalties are more important than the communities of Wide Bay and Maryborough. I look forward to Mr Truss’s comments on the mine.
Federal Environment Minister, Mr Peter Garrett might likewise consider the impact on the immediate environment, as he did with Traveston Dam.
Letter to Fraser Coast Chronicle: 22 June 2010, Published 28 June 2010
Posted by Jim on June 4, 2010
The Greens Wide Bay candidate, Dr Jim McDonald, said today that he would believe Northern Energy Corporation had shelved the Colton Coal Mine project when there was evidence that the company had withdrawn its application for a mining licence.
He was commenting on a statement by NEC Managing Director, Keith Barker, on the ABC that the 40% super tax would make the mine non-viable.
Dr McDonald said NEC were grandstanding and attempting to hold the community to ransom.
“The company has reported up to 100 million tons of coal. That is not a marginal investment for a greenfields coalmining company.
“The fact that the Colton Coal Mine had ridden roughshod over the residents of Aldershot shows how seriously they were prepared to commence digging the mine as soon as a mining licence was granted. They glossed over the impact on the health of children living near the mine.
“They didn’t do that for a marginal investment and Mr Barker’s statement does not compute with the company’s latest ASX statement.
“NEC told the ASX in its April report of its intention to extend the resource of hard coking coal and increase the size of the mine development in parallel with the initial establishment of the open-cut mine.
“NEC is blatantly supporting Warren Truss and Tony Abbott and their opposition to the mining tax. Mr Barker has joined in a concerted, self-interested political campaign by the mining industry against the Rudd mining tax.
“The Rudd government had botched the introduction of the tax, and tripped itself up in spin, but the idea of a proper return to the Treasury on Australian resources was correct.”
Dr McDonald said that the State Government should reject the mining lease application. The best result for anyone living within 10 kilometres of the proposed mine is that it should not go ahead at all.
Posted by Jim on May 29, 2010
Coal survey maps suggest that large swathes of land from Bundaberg to the Mary Valley could end up as open-cut coal mines. This is adjacent to, and in some cases covers, tourist areas, sensitive environmental areas including watercourses and wetlands, State forests, national parks and viable farmland. It extends to the Mary Valley and the Mary River. Figure 1 is a map of the various coal basins in South-East Queensland.
Figure 1: Coal Basins in South-East Queensland
accessed 24 May 2010
Figure 1 shows very clearly that the Maryborough Basin intrudes upon Bundaberg and Maryborough and extends as far south as Gympie and into the Mary Valley.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Jim on May 27, 2010
The Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Jim McDonald, told a meeting of the Maryborough Greens campaign team at a briefing on the weekend that Maryborough would soon be surrounded by a number of coalmines.
“Open-cut coalmines will change Hervey Bay and Maryborough forever,” he said. “Colton Coal Mine, the first of the mines, operated by Northern Energy Corporation, will be dug three kilometres from the town of Aldershot, a few kilometres north of Maryborough.
“The people of Aldershot are in the front line of the worst of these changes, which will be 24 hour operations, dust, noise and lights at the mine all night, property devaluation, the destruction of the amenity of the area, and the consequent effects on their health.”
Dr McDonald met with the Aldershot and Districts Against Mining committee for two hours on Saturday afternoon and heard first-hand the fears of the town for the future of their children’s health.
He said that if the Colton Coal Mine had been operating last Friday, when the winds blew all afternoon from the east and north-east, Aldershot would have experienced dust and noise of draglines and the huge mining trucks. Toxic dust would have landed on the roofs of houses, which rely on tank water.
Candidate with AADAM Committee, Campaign Director & member of Greens Maryborough Campaign Committee
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Jim on May 18, 2010
It is bad enough when coal mining in Queensland and NSW is allowed by State and Governments to ruin prime agricultural land.
When coalmining threatens to destroy the lifestyle of the 500 residents of Aldershot, just north of Maryborough, it’s time to call a halt.
The escalation of open-cut coal mining is creating environmental and social problems as well as alienating agricultural land. The Colton mine has not yet started, but it will be to the detriment of Aldershot and its residents. The mine will be only 3 kilometres from the village. The Colton project will turn Aldershot and the north of Maryborough into a coalmining town.
This is an example of mining moving from remote regions of the state to more intensively settled areas like Maryborough and Hervey Bay.
Mining coal so close to established towns will also cause health problems. A 2008 study of the effect of coalmining in West Virginia in the USA found that the incidence of chronic illness in coalmining communities grows as coal production increases1.
Coalmining produces carbon dioxide, methane and sulphuric acid as well as dust and will interfere with the water table. The mine will put pressure on water resources in the region. There are wetlands, which the Colton mine will also affect, as well as the Susan River which flows into the Mary River estuary.
Initially the developer, Northern Energy Corporation, told the community in April this year that mining would last 8 to 10 years. That estimate did not add up. In February, the estimated reserve was reported as being 57.4 million tons. NEC says that it will be shipping out 500,000 tonnes of coal a year once the open-cut mine starts up. Do the maths: the mine is good for a century as it spreads to the northern suburbs of Maryborough.
Planning legislation must stop open cut coal mines devastating agricultural areas, near residential areas or near environmentally sensitive areas, especially given the industry’s appalling record on environmental management and site rehabilitation.
1. M Hendryx and M Ahern, “Relations between Health Indicators and Residential Proximity to Coal Mining in West Virginia,” April 2008, The American Journal of Public Health.
Thanks for contribution to this post by Drew Hutton