MINING FILE PHOTO.
MINING FILE PHOTO.

Cloud looms over Galilee mine

UPDATE FRIDAY 7AM: A GLIMMER of hope for the construction of one mine in the Galilee Basin has appeared, but now the future of another is up in the air.

As all eyes focused on the Adani Australia meeting with the Department of Environment and the Coordinator-General to establish a timeline for the Carmichael Coal Mine project yesterday, neighbouring Galilee Basin mining project China Stone fell under a cloud of uncertainty.

The potential $7billion mega-mine, 300km southwest of Mackay in the Galilee Basin, was tipped to generate billions of dollars in royalties. Now the State Government has confirmed China Stone developers MacMines Austasia, owned by Chinese billionaire Yao Junliang, has suspended its bid for mining leases. 

MacMines CEO Russell Phillips offered no explanation for why the company chose to halt the five applications.

He told the Daily Mercury he was not in the position to comment on the situation as it progressed, although he indicated there could be some sort of future for the project, saying "the next steps" were being discussed internally.

The Coordinator-General's approval remains valid for the project and a DNRME spokesperson said the company still held an Exploration Permit for Coal and a Mineral Development Licence and was still able to apply for mining leases at any time in the future.

"MacMines has advised the Department that they are committed to converting the exploration authorities that underlie the area to a mining lease, and developing the coal deposit, at a later date," the spokesperson said.

Despite concerns about the future of the China Stone project, Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane seemed unphased.

"My understanding is that the China Stone project is still continuing, but they are not proceeding with construction at this stage," Mr Macfarlane said while in Mackay for the Fair Go for the Regions roundtable meeting yesterday.

"That's probably a good thing if the Adani project proceeds because we don't want to go into a boom and bust cycle, we want to see these projects developed in a sustainable way and pass the environmental test.

"We then want the mines to be built one at a time so there are jobs for construction workers and miners."

Fair go for our region roundtable held in Mackay.
Fair go for our region roundtable held in Mackay. Rainee Shepperson

State Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert also attended the roundtable meeting, remaining steadfast on her position on coal despite questions about Labor's commitment to the industry.

She said China Stone had made its decision based on economic security.

"It's a commercial decision for that company," she said.

"I think they were not feeling so confident about the price of thermal coal, which is different to the metallurgical coal that we have in our backyard.

"That's up to them and how they run their business. The Galilee Basin is not going to pack up and go away, so I think when price factors come into play those companies will look at when it's commercially viable for them. There are peaks and troughs in every business."

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert attended the Fair Go for our Region roundtable in Mackay on Thursday.
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert attended the Fair Go for our Region roundtable in Mackay on Thursday. Emma Murray

When asked about the security of her position as Member for Mackay following the results of the recent Federal election, Mrs Gilbert said she would advocate for the community no matter what.

She also reiterated the commitment Labor had to the mining industry.

"The State Government has been very strong about our position on coal. In the last fortnight we have announced the opening of two new mines, Winchester South and Olive Downs South, right here in our backyard," she said.

"That's more jobs for our resource sector and in maintenance and support, so it's a win win for our region.

"Labor is across the whole of the mining industry, we are backing coal and nickel and went ahead with the gas industry even when other states refused. Without Queensland gas, we wouldn't have a gas industry here in Australia."

With so much attention on Adani's contraversial coal mine, MacMines were able to quietly terminate its lease applications in March.
With so much attention on Adani's contraversial coal mine, MacMines were able to quietly terminate its lease applications in March.

State LNP leader Deb Frecklington also visited Mackay for the roundtable and expressed her views on both Adani and China Stone. She questioned Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's political motives in demanding a deadline for the Adani project.

>> What our region thinks about Adani's Federal approval 

"The Premier had used political interference in relation to the Adani project since day one," she said.

"I think the Premier needs to show some leadership on the issue and approve this mine.

"She is playing political football with Adani, and it's time for her to grow a backbone and make a decision. It has been eight years, it's time to stop dithering and take action."

Mayor Greg Williamson, LNP leader Deb Frecklington, Techserve CEO Tim Magoffin and QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane.
Mayor Greg Williamson, LNP leader Deb Frecklington, Techserve CEO Tim Magoffin and QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane. Rainee Shepperson

Ms Frecklington said the Premier's announcement at Hay Point Coal Terminal on Wednesday was nothing more than a political play.

"You cannot stand up and announce a meeting and think that's a great way forward," she said.

"It's a slap in the face for everyone in Queensland, and for anyone who wants to invest in this state, what a shocking message that is sending.

"We need certainty around investment in our resources industry, our agriculture industry and our tourism industry. We also need a Premier who is prepared to lead this great state."

Ms Frecklington also spoke more generally on the issue.

"For companies looking to invest in Queensland, when you have a State Government that is playing political football with one mining proponent, no wonder people are questioning the approval process on other mines."

INITIAL: AN AUSTRALIAN based Chinese company has suspended its bid for mining leases to develop a large coal mine next door to Adani's proposed operation in Queensland.

The proposed $7B China Stone project was expected to create thousands of jobs within the Central Queensland region, but the state government has confirmed the  company has not progressed with mining lease applications.

A Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Spokesperson today said MacMines "voluntarily" terminated its five mining lease applications for the China Stone Project. 

The project was first proposed in 2012 with conditional approvals for granted by the Coordinator General in November last year. Chinese billionaire's, the Yao family own the mine through Australian entity Macmines Austasia.  

Situated 300km away from Mackay in the Galilee Basin, the mega-mine was tipped generate billions of dollars in royalties.

The Daily Mercury made attempts to contact MacMines Austasia but were unsuccessful. A resource industry researcher said the company's phone lines are disconnected and the Brisbane address listed on the company's website was vacated in 2016.  

A Chinese number listed on the company's website also rings out before an automated message confirms it has been disconnected

MacMines CEO Russel Phillips offered no explanation for why the company chose to halt the five applications. He told the Daily Mercury he was not in the position to comment on the situation as it progresses, although he indicated there could be some sort of future for the project saying "the next steps" were being discussed internally. 

The Coordinator General's approval is still valid for the project.

A DNRME spokesperson said the MacMines company still hold an Exploration Permit for Coal and a Mineral Development Licence and are still able to apply for mining leases at any time in the future.

"MacMines has advised the Department that they are committed to converting the exploration authorities that underlie the area to a mining lease, and developing the coal deposit, at a later date." 

Green advocacy group, Lock the Gate Alliance has claimed the stall for the open-cut and underground thermal coal was due to "international market factors".

LTGA spokesperson Carmel Flint claimed there was a decline in thermal coal markets globally, which could be a contributing factor in the decision.

"What's clear is that workers in Central Queensland and other coal mining areas need options for long term, steady employment, that isn't subject to the boom and bust cycle of the coal market," Ms Flint said.

"Mining companies come and go, but Queensland needs long-term jobs in agriculture and renewable energy that can be relied on.

"We are witnessing a decline in thermal coal markets globally, and Australia is already feeling the impacts of this."

About the China Stone project: 

The proposed mine is located 300 km west of Mackay.

It was expected to create 3900 construction jobs and 3400 operational jobs. 



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