Plans to Erect a Coal Mine 6 Miles From the Great Barrier Reef Have Been Revoked

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

Feb. 9 2023, Published 12:22 p.m. ET

Great Barrier Reef Coal Mine
Source: Getty Images

Environmentalists are cheering on the decision of Australian environment minister Tanya Plibersek, after she rejected the construction of a coal mine 6 miles from the Great Barrier Reef. The project, known as the Central Queensland Coal Project, would have created two giant pits that would produce upwards of 10 million metric tons of coal annually for at least 20 years. However, Plibersek felt the environmental risks were too significant.

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The Central Queensland Coal Project would have consisted of two large open pits yielding up to 10 million metric tons of coal a year for 20 years or more.

This is a victory for the Reef, for tourism, for communities that depend on the Reef for their livelihoods, and for all those who cherish this natural wonder,” Coral Rowston, of Environmental Advocacy in Central Queensland, said in a statement.

“If the Central Queensland Coal Project had been in operation last month when we were in flood," she continued, "it would have pumped millions of liters of toxic wastewater directly into the Broad Sound fish habitat area — a vital nursery for many species vital to the Reef’s health and our fishery industry.”

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Great Barrier Reef
Source: Getty Images

Why Australia rejecting the Central Queensland Coal Project is so huge:

Australia's government has turned down Central Queensland Coal Project's proposal to build a mine approximately 6 miles from the Great Barrier Reef. The decision comes from the various potential risks a coal mine could present to the already highly vulnerable World Heritage area.

“I have decided not to approve the Central Queensland Coal Project because the risks to the Great Barrier Reef, freshwater creeks, and groundwater are too great,” Plibersek stated.

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“Freshwater creeks run into the Great Barrier Reef and onto seagrass meadows that feed dugongs and provide breeding grounds for fish," she continued.

According to The BBC, the owner of the mine, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer, has not yet made a public response to being dismissed. But it comes as no surprise, as Plibersek had already implied the government wouldn't allow the mine, after 9,000 public audience submissions flooded her department within 10 days, to call off the project.

Considering the fact that the Great Barrier Reef has deteriorated exponentially over the last decade, due to various bleaching events, the Queensland state government reiterated the risks of having a coal mine nearby would be "significant."

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Great Barrier Reef
Source: Getty Images

Who is Tanya Plibersek?

After her decision to turn down the coal mine, on the basis of Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, Australians hope to see the country's environment minister turn down more harmful projects of the like. But who is Tanya Plibersek?

Plibersek is a Sydney native who studied Communications at University of Technology Sydney, according to the Australian Labor Party.

Post-grad, she worked for the NSW Government's Domestic Violence Unit, and after acquiring her Master of Politics and Public Policy from Macquarie University, she was elected as Sydney's Member of Parliament in 1998.

Since, she has fought for important social issues such as paid parental leave, work rights for same sex couples, inclusion, and various environmental matters.

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