Australia’s Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek on Thursday blocked a proposed coal mine to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Plibersek had recently announced she has rejected plans for the Central Queensland Coal Project because of the risks it posed to the iconic reef, freshwater creeks and groundwater, reports Xinhua news agency.
She proposed blocking the site in August 2022 and launched a public consultation process, receiving more than 9,000 submissions — about 98 per cent of which were in favour of rejecting the project.
“I made this decision after a lot of careful consideration because I decided based on the evidence before me that there was an unacceptable risk to the Great Barrier Reef, to freshwater creeks and groundwater leading into the reef,” she told Sky News on Thursday.
“The freshwater and the groundwater that would be around the mine site — they were part of my considerations as well.”
The planned mining site was about 10 km from the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area.
If approved, the open-cut pits would have been constructed on the site to extract up to 10 million tonnes of coal annually for the next 20 years.
Plibersek’s decision was welcomed by the state government and environmentalists after an independent regulator found the project posed a risk to the reef.
Jaclyn McCosker, a campaigner from the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the mine would have been a climate and natural disaster, damaging local habitats.