QCC condemns approval of Winchester South mega mine

The Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation's recent approval of Whitehaven's proposed mega mine, Winchester South, is a terrible decision that will impact on Queenslanders still clearing up from storms, fires and floods made worse by climate change.

As the largest proposed greenfield coal mine in Australia, Winchester South plans to extract up to 17 million tonnes of coal annually over a daunting span of 28 years. This approval, greenlighted by the Miles Government, paves the way for the release of a staggering 583 million tonnes of CO2e emissions, posing a dire threat to our already fragile climate, nature, and the health of our communities.

The Queensland Conservation Council condemns the approval of this mine and calls upon Minister Tanya Plibersek to refuse its operation.

Dave Copeman, QCC Director, says

The Winchester South Coal mine should not have been approved, this is a disappointing day for Queensland.

The Queensland Government has put Queenslanders at further risk by approving this dangerous mine.

Despite the continuous environmental disasters we have witnessed in the past months across Queensland, the Queensland Government's decision to greenlight this project shows that their approvals process must change.  Instead of protecting Queenslanders from the worst impacts of climate change, they are adding fuel to the fire for short-term gains.

This mega mine could produce more than 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution over its lifetime, or more than three times Queensland's annual emissions. Winchester South is a greenfield, open cut coal mine in the Bowen Basin, that aims to produce 15 million tonnes of coal a year for nearly 30 years.

The climate science is clear, we must end the use of coal urgently if we are to meet our climate targets and keep Queenslanders safe from the worsening impact of climate change. We are dangerously close to likely tipping points in our global climate systems.

Neither the Coordinator General or Department of Environment and Science has properly assessed the impact of the emissions of this mine because Queensland's inadequate laws currently wave through new coal mines without considering the climate impacts.

This mine should have been required to minimise its emissions under the decarbonisation plans proposed under the Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, but their EIS makes it clear that they have no plan to reduce fugitive methane emission, emissions from deforestation or even diesel use by the equipment.

As an open cut mine, once they start extracting coal, it will be too late to reduce the methane that will be released into the atmosphere continuously for generations, turbocharging climate change.