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Clive Palmer: more information

Clive Palmer, Queensland billionaire mining magnate, Australia's 5th richest person and owner and director of Mineralogy Pty Ltd, is involved in a number of huge new mining projects. One of Clive Palmer's companies, Waratah Coal, is proposing the 'China First' mine project in Queensland, the largest coal mine in Australia. Palmer is also involved in the development of 'Abbot Point' - a coal export facility that will be the largest in the world. The facility will be positioned right in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, endangering our precious natural wonder.

Just yesterday Clive Palmer claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America is funding an Australian environment movement campaign, (including individuals such as anti-coal seam gas mining campaigner Drew Hutton), to shutdown the coal industry – going so far as to suggest that the US President is aware of this.

For more background on Clive Palmer's comments yesterday, read: this article and what prompted his comments. Today he stood by his claim of links to the CIA.
The Abbot Point coal export facility is proposed within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and poses a major threat to one of Australia's genuine national treasures (read more about the impacts of this development below).

The China First project would not only be Australia's largest coal mine (for more info on the project, download this presentation from Waratah Coal), but it will destroy the Bimblebox Nature Refuge (to find out more about Bimblebox and the campaign to save it click here).
The Galilee Basin in the heart of Queensland is the proposed site for a series of mega mines that could see Australia's coal exports more than double within a decade. An enormous coal mine means enormous amounts of carbon pollution and supporting infrastructure. We are on the brink of turning the whole Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area into a massive industrial estate. The expansion plans include:
  • Port infrastructure: Major new infrastructure is proposed along almost the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area – from Gladstone to Cape York. These projects will devastate significant areas of Queensland's coastline both on and offshore. One port, Abbott Point, would become the largest coal export port in the world, nearly three times larger than any other on the planet.
  • Ship traffic: Up to 10,000 coal ships would travel through the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area by the end of the decade. This compares to less than 2000 in 2011. An average of two accidents has occurred every year since 1985. More ships mean more pollution, more spills, more groundings and more collisions.
  • Dredging: For coal ships to access the huge ports, millions of tonnes of sea floor will need to be dredged from the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The proposed and approved dredging is the equivalent of taking enough material to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground 67 times. Dredging will destroy vital marine habitat, including for endangered Loggerhead and Olive Ridley turtles.

Read the full Greenpeace report on impacts to the Reef here.
A paper released by the Australia Institute argues that while the profits flowing to the owners of the 'China First Project' will be substantial, the net economic benefits to Australia will, at best, be small. Indeed, this paper highlights that even the mine's proponents concede that there will be substantial economic costs for significant parts of the broader economy. According to the Economic Impact Statement commissioned by Waratah Coal to help make the case for the China First mine, the consequences of the mine's approval for the broader economy include:
  • 3,000 jobs will be lost across Queensland and Australia, particularly in manufacturing, agriculture and tourism.
  • $1,249.4 million of manufacturing activity will be lost.
  • Inflation will rise.
  • Small and medium sized businesses will be hit with higher bills for payroll and rent. This will result in some of them shutting down.
  • Housing affordability will decline for those who are not employed in the new mine.
  • Wealth will become less evenly distributed, with most of the benefits accruing to those employed in the China First mine.
While some may argue that such claims are predictable coming from the opponents of the development of the world's largest coal mine, few could fail to be surprised to learn that these are the claims being made by the mine proponents themselves.

As the name suggests this mine is essentially a Chinese project:
'Waratah Coal has entered agreements with Chinese partners for the financing, construction and marketing of the project. The Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) has been engaged to undertake the engineering, procurement, construction and management of the project, although Waratah Coal will have a management team and will maintain a supervisory role during construction, operations and decommissioning. MCC will utilise the expertise and resources of a number of other major Chinese companies, including the China Railway Group, the China Communications Construction Company and the Sino Coal International Engineering Group. (Appendix 23 - Social Impact p.xviii)

Download the report 'An analysis of the economic impacts of the China First mine' here.