THE release of Waratah Coal's supplementary environmental impact statement for the China First Coal Mine has issued the State Government with an ultimatum of sorts - let us mine Bimblebox or lose $3 billion in coal royalties.
The SEIS explicitly states: "The project is unviable if the reserves under the Bimblebox Nature Reserve (BNR) are not mined."
The document suggests offsetting the area of Bimblebox mined with twice the amount of land.
However co-owner Paola Cassoni isn't satisfied with that solution.
"At the time of the EIS, there was a couple of blokes from DERM that came in, ecologists, to make sure that the nature refuge was what was on paper," she said.
"They were actually there for a couple of days; they were really taken by it. Their report is in the SEIS.
"In their submission to the EIS, DERM suggested that Bimblebox should be offset with an area five times its size because of the irreplacibility of the biodiversity values of Bimblebox.
"Waratah, in the SEIS, has ignored this suggestion... When a protected area is destroyed that's it."
She said there was only one feasible option if they were to mine Bimblebox.
"They take an area adjacent to Bimblebox... all the area around Bimblebox is mostly cleared and as biodiversity is nil they plant and reconstruct Bimblebox," Mrs Cassoni said.
"That is a true offset... otherwise it's just a loophole."
Mrs Cassoni's concerns go beyond the nature reserve, she is gravely concerned about the effect of the proposed mine on the local water supply.
"They still can't find a definite source of water," she said.
"There's seven potential water sources listed but no suitable option. It says additional investigation would be required. Why have they not been done by now - is this good enough in the SEIS for such a huge project?
"There is water right underneath it; it's what drought proofs the Desert Uplands. But it's sandy soil, there's no way to sink a dam, we need our bore.
"We and they are sick and tired of uncertainty, if you are on the mining lease of these four mines you're going. The other option, if you are adjacent to the coal mine, is being de-watered. They say we'll get water elsewhere... I don't think it will be feasible to truck water to the desert uplands.
"In dry time or drought we'll be at a standstill."
Mrs Cassoni said she'll be submitting a response to the SEIS and she encouraged anyone concerned about the project to do so.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said Queensland co-ordinator general Barry Broe would make the final decision.
"The process will identify how significant that nature reserve is," Mr Seeney said.
"There is a huge difference between a nature reserve and a national park. A nature reserve declaration does not give us any idea about what's there.
"We will need to let the process take its course."
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