ABC reported that Mr Clive Palmer's plan to mine coal near the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area has been condemned by Commonwealth appointed experts who say they see no way to remove the proposal's threat to the reef. The Independent Expert Scientific Committee has expressed extreme concern about the proposed Central Queensland Coal project, which it said posed very significant risks to reef waters and other internationally recognised assets. It said “It is especially concerned about the discharge of mine-affected water into the World Heritage Area and Queensland's largest fish habitat at Broad Sound, north of Rockhampton. Miner's plans to minimise environmental impacts were likely to be completely inadequate for this region because of its relatively undisturbed setting. The IESC cannot envisage any feasible mitigation measures, including offsets, that could safeguard these irreplaceable and internationally significant ecological assets and their associated water resources.”
Former IESC member Mr Jim McDonald said the expert panel's advice to Queensland and federal environmental officials last month was one of its most damning assessments yet. He told ABC "They're quite blunt about the loss of environmental asset. Essentially, they're saying if you go ahead with the mine as proposed, you will lose some environmental assets, because there's no way you can offset it."
Central Queensland Coal has hit back at the IESC, arguing its own draft environmental impact statement specifically states that there will be no significant impact to any values in these areas, including the World Heritage Area. It said "Given the findings of no significant impact to these areas, the IESC should state what their major concern and the very significant risk are.”
Mr Palmer is the sole owner of Central Queensland Coal through companies including Fairway Coal and Mineralogy. Central Queensland Coal wants to build a mine of up to 10 million tonnes of coal a year 10 kilometres from the World Heritage Area.