Climate crisis? What climate crisis? Mine expansions raise doubts about govt’s stance

The State Government’s climate credentials were under pressure this week after it approved the expansion of a coal mine and opened up a grants program to unlock gas reserves in the Bowen and Galilee basins.

Nov 10, 2023, updated Nov 10, 2023
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in a media briefing before the handing down of the 2023-24 Queensland state budget.  (AAP Image/Darren England)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in a media briefing before the handing down of the 2023-24 Queensland state budget. (AAP Image/Darren England)

The Government handed a mining lease to Anglo American to expand its Lake Lindsay metallurgical coal mine near Middlemount, in central Queensland which would sustain about 500 jobs.

When fully operational the expanded mine will produce 5.6 million tonnes of steel-making coal.

But the Queensland Conservation Council’s Jenny Brown said the mine would also produce 18 million tonnes of global carbon dioxide pollution every year.

She said the announcement demonstrated that Queensland was a long way from serious action on climate change, even as communities were paying the price with more frequent and extreme fires, floods and droughts.

The $21 million grants for the gas exploration program was aimed at helping companies explore and unlock new reserves in the Bowen and Galilee basins and bring Queensland gas to market sooner.

The Government said that since 2017, Queensland had released more than 20,000 sq/km of land exclusively for domestic supply.

It said gas would continue to play an important role in underpinning the reliability of the electricity market as Queensland works towards a 70 per cent renewable energy target by 2032.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said the Government would continue to back Queensland’s resources industry, which had been a bedrock of our economy for more than a century and supports more than 75,000 jobs.

“As we drive our clean energy transformation, we’re determined to continue to make the most of our gas reserves that are so vital to Australia’s heavy industries and the jobs they support.

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Last financial year, the gas sector generated $2.3 billion in royalties.

Environment group Lock the Gate’s  Ellie Smith said there were better ways for the Palaszczuk Government to spend Queensland taxpayer funds than to make it available to gas corporations.

“Funding new gas exploration when much of the world is moving away from fossil fuels is reckless for regional communities. Queenslanders want to see investment in diversification to clean industries and support for an economy of the future based on sustainable agriculture, tourism, and green manufacturing,’’ she said.

Australian Energy Producers Queensland director Keld Knudsen said the opening of the program to applications would help inject millions of dollars of exploration investment into regional communities around the Bowen and Galilee basins.

“Gas exploration is the first step to securing new gas supply and keeping energy reliable and affordable,” Mr Knudsen said.

“Queensland understands how to extract the benefits of gas on the path to net zero, with exploration for gas to uncover the state’s abundant supplies delivering millions of dollars of investment into regions.’’

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