The construction of a coal mine in Queensland, Australia, threatens to destroy hundreds of hectares of koala habitat. However, the government approved the construction plans earlier this month, without the need for an environmental impact assessment. Environmentalists see the prospect of the South Vulcan coal mine as an “absolute disaster” for already endangered animals such as koalas, climbing marsupials and cockatoos.
The Vulcan South project is now on Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek's desk following approval from the Queensland Government. Whether the project can go ahead already depends on Plibersk's approval. If the mine is finally approved, the mining company will get a permit to cut off 770 hectares of koala habitat, which is also home to many endangered animals.
Koala habitat continues to deteriorate
Environmentalists are urging the federal government to halt coal mine development in central Queensland. The koala was officially placed on the endangered species list by the Australian government in 2022, because the species is in serious decline due to land clearing and bushfires. More than 90,000 hectares of koala habitat in Queensland were cleared for beef production in one year, according to 2022 data.
The South Vulcan coal mine application (like many others) was able to avoid a mandatory environmental impact assessment by falling just below the 2 million tons annual threshold. The company plans to extract 1.95 million tons of coal annually. The company has already received approval to establish an adjacent mine in March 2022, which will also produce 1.95 million tons per year. Activists have long warned of the “worrying trend” of proposed mines falling below the threshold requiring an environmental impact assessment. Dave Copeman, Director of the Queensland Conservation Council:
“This mine was approved through a loophole in Queensland's Environmental Protection Act. Environmental groups have been calling for this option to be closed for years. The mine should not be approved, neither from a climate standpoint nor from a biodiversity standpoint.
doctor. Central Queensland Environmental Defense Director Coral Ruston is calling on the National Government to “do a better job” than the Queensland Government and block approval of the Vulcan South project.
“Approving a climate-destroying coal mine, which will wipe out an area of more than 300 football fields of koala habitat, is an absolute disaster for Queensland's iconic species. Tanya Plibersek can and must make good on her promise that no animal will go extinct. That's why she must Denied a permit for the South Vulcan coal mine, protecting this important koala habitat in central Queensland.
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