Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Second stage of Queensland's Alpha Coal project approved

Media release
10 October 2012

Environment Minister, Tony Burke, has approved the joint GVK / Hancock Coal proposed new coal terminal at the existing Port of Abbot Point subject to strict conditions.

Mr Burke said that the approval for the second stage of the Alpha Coal project had been granted subject to 60 strict conditions to protect matters of national environmental significance including the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the marine area.

“This decision follows a rigorous assessment process including the opportunity for public comment,” Mr Burke said.

“The conditions I have set manage impacts on listed threatened species, as well as impacts on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the marine area.

“These conditions will assist us in maintaining our commitment to sustainable development and ensure the outstanding universal values of the Great Barrier Reef are protected.”

“The proponent will need to develop a seagrass offset package consistent with our approach to environmental protection.

“Under this seagrass offsets scheme the proponent must work with the Queensland Government to identify opportunities to protect and conserve seagrass, the vital asset that protects threatened species including dolphins, marine turtles and dugongs.

“A heritage management plan will also need to be developed to maximise the ongoing protection and long term conservation of the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef world heritage property.

“Further, a management and monitoring framework will be required to demonstrate how all direct, indirect and cumulative impacts to matters of national environmental significance have been considered.”

Other key conditions are:

  • pre-clearance surveys to detect the presence of listed threatened species and migratory species;
  • a biodiversity offsets strategy with offsets of eight to one, including for seagrass, to compensate for unavoidable impacts on matters of national environmental significance;
  • a comprehensive Caley Valley Wetland Management Plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef and migratory species;
  • funding to the Great Barrier Reef Field Management Program for Indigenous rangers, and
  • construction and operational environmental management plans, including:
    • air quality, including the impact of coal dust deposition in the marine environment;
    • water quality, including the impact of runoff into the Caley Valley Wetland and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area; and
    • traffic, including increases to shipping through the Great Barrier Reef.

“The proponent will be required to fully reflect the findings of the final cumulative impact assessment currently being prepared and which is expected to be released later this year,” Mr Burke said.

This approval to expand Abbot Point, which began operation in 1984 and has a current capacity of 50 million tonnes per year, is consistent with the World Heritage Committee’s decision earlier this year that recommended that “the State Party to not permit any new port development or associated infrastructure outside of the existing and long-established major port areas...”.