A BIRD no taller than 12cm, weighing just 15 grams and appearing to wear wrap-around sunglasses may be forced to stand up against magnate Clive Palmer's enormous coal mine planned for Central Queensland.
If Palmer's Waratah Coal develops its multi-billion-dollar China First project, it will consume swathes of the 8000ha Bimblebox Nature Reserve, home of the black-throated finch.
It was an outcome that would devastate Bimblebox co-owner Paola Cassoni.
"We are looking at pristine ecology and we are not putting a price on it," she said.
"There is no price, it is priceless. There is no other."
When Waratah released its latest environmental reports earlier this month, it suggested mining the nature reserve as "critical" to the success of the project.
"For the Galilee Coal Project, the (coal) reserves beneath the Bimblebox Nature Reserve are critical and the most cost-effective of all (coal) reserves," the report stated.
But in another part of the same document, it warns the site "contains the last substantial population" of the endangered black-throated finch.
In 2009, a "significant impact report" was done on the petite songbird, warning that earthworks, excavation, road building, land clearing and increases in human activity would put its existence at risk.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney previously told APN that while no decision had been made about the future of the China First project, Bimblebox was not guaranteed protection just because it was declared a nature refuge.
It was a view that pained Ms Cassoni but did not weaken her resolve.
"When the mines come to an area, there is this permeating feeling with us land owners that there is nothing you can do," she said.
"They have the power and you just have to comply with whatever they're saying.
"Landowners lose their spirit and we see our property taken away.
"We're dismayed at what's happening - it's just not right."
Ms Cassoni joined other farmers to help establish the reserve, once called Glen Innis Station, to protect it from the land-clearing that was rampant in the area during the 1980s and 1990s.
The Federal Government supplied $300,000 of the $450,000 price tag as part of its National Reserve System in 2003, with agreements signed at both state and federal levels to protect it.
Ms Cassoni's land sits about 110km east of Bimblebox, where 500 head of cattle roam a property about the same size as the nature reserve.
Waratah Coal and Mr Palmer declined to discuss its plans further, preferring to wait until after submissions close on its supplementary environmental impact statement on Monday, May 6.
Comments on the project can be made at dsdip.qld.gov.au.
When the English countryside meets the tropical Whitsundays you must wonder what this property is like. Imagine no more, this very well-presented neat-as-a-pin...
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