Government levels clash over threat of mineral development licence
DEBATE continues over the threat of a mineral development licence being granted in Bundaberg with the mines minister taking aim at the Bundy’s Mayor.
If approved, the MDL would allow Western Australia company and applicant Fox Resources to carry out works and exploration activities in the region, tand hat may include seismic surveys and drilling.
Last week, Bundaberg Regional Council unanimously opposed the MDL in a motion moved by Division 1 councillor Jason Bartels.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said if the MDL was granted, subsequent works could cause significant environmental impacts to agricultural land in the region.
“If the licence application were approved it would allow Fox Resources to use seismic survey and drill important agricultural land in search of coking and metallurgical coal over a period of five to 10 years,” Mr Dempsey said.
“I’ve conveyed council’s position to the minister, that we oppose coal mining in parts of the Bundaberg region that have high-value agriculture or tourism and environmental sensitivity.”
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the State Government had restored the community’s right to have a say in the decision.
“It’s the height of hypocrisy for Mayor Jack Dempsey to be objecting to resources proposals,” Dr Lynham said.
“When he sat in the Newman Cabinet he was one of the loud voices that took away the community’s right to object to a mining lease.
“If he and his LNP colleagues were still in government, the people of Bundaberg would not be able to object.”
Dr Lynham said the MDL application lodged by Fox Resources does not allow any mining activity.
“If it should reach the point of a mining lease application, the community – including council and Lock the Gate – can lodge objections,” Dr Lynham said.
“In the event it reached this point, those objections would be considered by a fully independent Land Court.”
Cr Bartels said the mayor, who was re-elected to serve another term in March, is an independent who treats every issue on its merits.
The Division 1 councillor said he was also not politically aligned with any party and rejected the suggestion it was a party-political issue.
“It’s disappointing that Minister Lynham has chosen to play politics with this very important matter,” Cr Bartels said.
“Mayor Dempsey and I listened to our constituents and received unanimous support from council to oppose coal mining in areas that have high-value agriculture or tourism and environmental sensitivity.”
Cr Bartels said he encouraged Dr Lynham to respect views of local residents in relation to the proposed MDL.
Lock the Gate Alliance Wide Bay-Burnett spokeswoman Vicki Perrin previously told the NewsMail the group was pleased with action the council was taking.
“While the decision whether to grant the MDL for Fox’s coal mine ultimately rests with the Queensland Palaszczuk Government, it is encouraging to see politicians at a local level fiercely fight against this unwelcome coal proposal,” Ms Perrin said.
“The Bundaberg region is simply too important from an agricultural, tourism, and environmental perspective to sacrifice to coal mining.”
Earlier this year, Fox Resources CEO Bruce Garlick told the NewsMail there was no immediate plans for a mine as numerous studies were required before a mining lease could even be considered.
“The Mineral Development Licence Application is an Exploration permit that is issued in order to evaluate the development potential of the resource (and) the term applied for is five years,” Mr Garlick said.
“If the MDL is granted, the work program allows for geophysics in the first year, seismic surveys and drilling in year two to five.”
If approved, the MDL can be renewed for a further five-year term once the initial five years has occurred.