Press Release - May 5, 2023

Two huge coal proposals shelved – but real test for Environment Minister is still to come

May 5, 2023

The Environment Council of Central Queensland (ECoCeQ) welcomes Minister Plibersek’s decision to shelve two coal projects in central Queensland but implores the Environment Minister to listen to science and properly consider the climate impacts of the other coal and gas proposals still on her desk.

ECoCeQ, represented by Environmental Justice Australia, launched the Living Wonders legal intervention in July last year to compel the Minister to reconsider the 19 coal and gas proposals because of their climate risk to our environment.

The Minister’s decision yesterday that the China Stone Coal Mine Project in the Galilee Basin 300 kilometres from Mackay and the Range Coal Project in the Surat Basin in Central Queensland cannot be approved, means there are now 14 coal and gas proposals subject to the legal intervention.

Three other proposed projects have previously either been refused by the Minister or withdrawn by the companies.

ECoCeQ has given Minister Plibersek more than 3000 documents, spreadsheets and detailed fire maps from leading international scientific sources and the government’s own documents, which will form the basis of her reconsideration.

This evidence demonstrates the impact of climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions on 2121 of Australia’s protected species, places and ecological communities.

The Minister’s decisions yesterday are consistent with the uncontroversial and global scientific consensus presented in ECoCeQ’s reconsideration requests regarding the implications of new gas and coal. However, it remains to be seen whether the reality of the climate impacts will be reflected in the Minister’s further decisions expected on other coal and proposals that are pending.

ECoCeQ President Christine Carlisle said:

“China Stone was a huge mine – we’re so relieved it’s been shelved. This is great news for our environment.

However, we implore the Minister to show courage when assessing the remaining coal and gas proposals on her desk. Each and every one of them will have a devastating impact on our climate and our living wonders, so must be properly assessed.

This decision shows our government can put the fate of Australia’s living wonders and a livable future for our children before the demands of the fossil fuel industry.

The China Stone project alone, has been sitting on Environment Ministers’ desks for almost a decade and was projected to extract almost 2,000 million tonnes of coal over 50 years.

But there are still scores of other new fossil fuel proposals on the Minister’s desk.

The science is clear. Burning coal, gas and oil is fuelling climate breakdown, with catastrophic consequences to thousands of animals, plants and places we love.”

Environmental Justice Australia Senior Lawyer Retta Berryman said:

Our client is encouraged by yesterday’s announcement, but the real test is still to come given the number of coal and gas proposals still on the Minister’s desk.

It is not just a matter of whether adequate information has been provided, but before approving any coal or gas project the Minister must first properly assess what impacts, including climate impacts, the proposal would have if approved.

For each of those proposals, the Minister has a vital responsibility to consider the vast and irreversible harm from climate damage, that all additional coal and gas poses to Australia’s living wonders.”


MacMines Austasia Pty Ltd had proposed the China Stone Coal Mine Project on a greenfield site approximately 270 km south of Townsville and 300 km west of Mackay at the northern end of the Galilee Basin.

The Range Project from Stanmore Coal was a proposed open-cut coal mine and processing facility 35 km south east of Wandoan in central Queensland’s Surat Basin.

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