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Bimblebox Nature Refuge

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Bimblebox Nature Refuge. Desert Uplands Central-west Queensland. Location of Bimblebox 500km west of Rockhampton 50km north-west of Alpha. Brief background.

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Bimblebox Nature Refuge

Desert Uplands

Central-west Queensland


Location of Bimblebox

500km west of Rockhampton

50km north-west of Alpha

brief background
Brief background
  • The property was bought in 2000 to save it from clearing with combined money of concerned families, plus ~ $300,000 of federal National Reserve System funding
  • In 2002 the Bimblebox Nature Refuge Agreement was signed between the land owners and the state government, to “permanently protect” the property’s conservation values
what s so good about bimblebox
What’s so good about Bimblebox?
  • 7,912 hectares, over 95% is remnant woodland and judged by ecologists to be in good condition
  • One of very few conservation areas in Desert Uplands (considered a ‘biodiversity hotspot’ but less than 5% of the bioregion is formally protected)
  • Rich in biodiversity – birds, reptiles, flora
  • Important example of conservation-oriented grazing
  • Hosts a number of long-term research projects
obligations by owners of bimblebox
Obligations by owners of Bimblebox

There are extensive conditions under both the National Reserve System (Commonwealth Govt) and Nature Refuge Program (Queensland Govt)

e.g., there “must be no destruction of any native plants”; the Minister must be informed if there are any “threats” to the refuge

mining threat to bimblebox
Mining threat to Bimblebox
  • Waratah coal announced they were starting exploration activities in 2007, 20 exploration holes drilled in 2008
  • 2011 EIS detailed plans to open cut around 52% of Bimblebox and underground mine the remainder
  • Proposed production of 40 Mt/year
      • Two open cut and four underground mines proposed + rail line + adjacent power plant
  • Current legislation does not exempt private protected areas from mining
  • QLD Coordinator General granted conditioned approval in Aug 2013, Federal assessment due in Nov
Proposed Galilee coal mines and their status

(source: Draining Our Lifeblood Report)

consequences of mining
Consequences of mining
  • Loss of habitat and biodiversity
    • Not just Bimblebox – other remnant woodland in region threatened by proposed mines
  • Mining the National Reserve System of protected areas
    • To our knowledge no protected area has been wholly destroyed by mining… could this set a dangerous precedent?
  • Loss of trust by landholders who invest much time, energy, money and passion in protecting Australia’s unique biodiversity

“Today over 560,800 hectares of some the world’s most biologically diverse areas are protected in Nature Refuges”

“All 242 nature refuge landholders have one thing in common – they know their patch is worth protecting forever” (2007)

our opposition
Our opposition
  • Letters: to Qld & C’wealth Ministers, to IUCN
  • Media: letters to newspapers, radio interviews, website
  • Submissions: detailed response to Waratah EIS and SEIS + submissions to other proposed mines in region
  • Networking with others: Mackay Conservation Group, Human Society International, Capricornia Conservation Council, 6 Degrees etc..
  • Other: hosted Bimblebox Art Camp, reporting breaches to DERM, postcard campaign, petition to the Queensland Government, documentary made, etc…
  • Objecting to Alpha Coal Mine, Land Court Qld
objecting to alpha coal mine
Objecting to Alpha Coal Mine
  • Located within 10km of Bimblebox northern boundary
  • Grounds of objection:
    • Groundwater impacts that will effect business and livelihood and the integrity of the nature refuge
    • Missed out objecting on coal dust likely to exceed the levels recommended by the  Environmental Protection Policy (EPP) (Air) by around 13 times on Bimblebox. There is no evidence that this dust could be mitigated
galilee basin saudi arabia
Galilee Basin: Saudi Arabia?
  • Many companies have identified the Galilee Basin as the next major energy province in QLD
    • Coal, CSG, Shale Gas, UCG
  • Qld State Government’s goal

“… development of a world scale energy province in Queensland”

  • Campbell Newman to Tony Abbot

“get out of our way” in the Galilee Basin


1 July 2005, 183 EPCs, area = 49,500 km2

1 July 2009, 414 EPCs, area = 121,500 km2

cumulative impacts
Cumulative impacts
  • Groundwater
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate
  • Social
  • Economic
what now
What now?
  • Waratah Coal’s final EIS to the Commonwealth Government open for comment from 30th Sept
  • Greg Hunt is currently assessing the project. Public comment will be open from Monday until he makes a decision, which is expected in November
  • Waratah still has to apply for water licences and a Mining Licence – at which stage the public has the opportunity to put in an objection to the Land Court
what can we do
What can we do?
  • Clive Palmer and the PUP in parliament (Reps & Senate)
    • Coalition motivated to keep Clive happy?
    • "We'll just kick them in the arse. We'll kick pretty hard and we'll push pretty hard…” (Palmer quoted in 2010 regarding state approval)
    • Waratah Coal been revealed to employ lobbyists
  • Keep mobilising public opposition to this mine and raising awareness about the potential disaster of Galilee Basin development

Possible legal avenues

  • Challenging the federal EPBC decision
    • Timing: December 2013/January 2014
  • Challenging the mining lease and environmental authority at the state level
    • Timing: Beginning of 2014
  • We welcome your ideas and expertise in this area
  • Are there any other avenues that we may not be aware of?

“Our family, 10 years ago put every available last dollar into buying the place to save it from bulldozers. Then in securing it as a Nature Refuge, we were charged by both federal and state governments with the responsibility to restore and preserve.

That’s our brief and we intend to keep it and if government and industry cannot recognise its value, then we who do, must show them this place means as much to us as coal does to them.”

Ian Hoch, Bimblebox