The Black Throated Finch is a serial offender when it comes to holding up major development projects
The Black Throated Finch is a serial offender when it comes to holding up major development projects

Endangered finch won’t derail $1b coal mine

THE same bird jeopardising approval of Adani's Carmichael coal mine should not derail another $1 billion coal mine because the species was "highly mobile" and could find potential habitats outside the mine, according to an environmental report.

The State Government approved the environmental impact statement yesterday for the Olive Downs coal mine in the Bowen Basin after only requiring minor adjustments to its assessment of the area's black-throated finch population.

But the green light came as new modelling from the Coal Council of Australia showed Federal Labor's emissions policy would add 12 per cent to the average total cash cost of coking coal mine operations.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the mine’s approval was evidence of her government’s commitment to the resources industry in Queensland. Picture: AAP/Darren England
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the mine’s approval was evidence of her government’s commitment to the resources industry in Queensland. Picture: AAP/Darren England

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was on Tuesday trumpeting approval of Whitehaven Coal's project, which is estimated to produce up to 15 million tonnes of coking coal a year, as evidence of her government's commitment to the resources industry.

And despite the interventionist approach of the Government that has forced Adani to constantly revise it animal management plan being touted as the new normal, the project was waved through with findings there would be "significant residual impacts" on five threatened species including koalas.

Whitehaven was required to slightly amend its assessment of the black-throated finch population after ecologists concluded they were unlikely to be present.

"This species is highly mobile and possesses the ability to disperse into the large areas of potential habitat outside the mine site and access road," the company wrote in its draft EIS.

A spokesman for the Co-ordinator General said the EIS found that no black-throated finches had been found within 50km of the mine while the Adani site was home to the "most significant population of the black-throated finch"

The southern black-throated finch. Picture: AAP/Birdlife Australia
The southern black-throated finch. Picture: AAP/Birdlife Australia

A spokeswoman for the Queensland Environment Department said the Adani property was the only known location in the state where the black-throated finch was reliably sighted and the only known nesting site outside of the Townsville region.

An Adani spokeswoman welcomed the approval but said "the jobs and investment from this new mine are unlikely to materialise anytime soon" under the State Government's approvals regime.

"Our advice to the Olive Downs team is, 'don't get too excited and don't start popping the champagne corks yet, there is a long and twisting road of secondary approvals ahead' as the Premier has made it clear that the 'Adani standard' of late-notice reviews, and dragging out bureaucratic processes will be the new norm under her government," she said.


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