The Wide Bay Burnett could be on the cusp of a modern-day gold rush.
- A Queensland government report notes 28 potential mineral mining projects in the Wide Bay Burnett
- Mining and exploration bodies say the projects will create jobs and have big economic impacts
- Lobby groups warn against bringing coking-coal mining to the produce farming region
The Queensland government has launched an investment prospectus for the Wide Bay Burnett, promoting 28 local mining projects that are “ripe for investment” from private operators.
It includes a proposed coking-coal mine in Bundaberg and opponents argue there is no place for it in the “food bowl of Australia”.
“What we’re looking at is a 64-million-tonne mine, which is not a small project by any stretch of the imagination,” said Queensland coordinator of Lock the Gate Alliance, Ellie Smith.
The prospectus, prepared on behalf of the Wide Bay Burnett Resources Group, promotes small scale developments or explorations, with a focus on mining minerals such as gold, copper, bauxite, granite and diatomite.
The benefits of small-scale mining has peaked the interest of locals.
North Burnett Regional Council Mayor Rachel Chambers has thrown her support behind the prospectus on social media.
“They create both direct and indirect jobs.
“There’s a large amount of rich minerals under our soil, so why not start investigating what we already have?”
The director of Queensland’s Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, Kate Dixon, said the region was uniquely placed for mining.
“There’s lots of small footprint work,” Ms Dixon said.
“A lot of companies say they want to find the next Olympic Dam project.
Some of the 28 prospects put forward in the report include ABX Group’s Bauxite mining project at Binjour, Eidsvold Siltstone’s Lochaber Creek project and the Maidenwell Diatomite Earth deposit south of Kingaroy.
The projects require roads and infrastructure to be updated, and Ms Dixon said they would provide flow-on opportunities for the community, such as “jobs, royalties to the state, and opportunities for young people in the region”.
Cr Chambers said the developments could benefit farmers in the North Burnett.
Robbie Radel, whose family has farmed dairy in the North Burnett since 1907, said mining on prime agricultural land would be a balancing act.
“You do hear the stories of farmers being forced off their land by big mining companies.
“But it’s certainly not all that bad — mining generates wealth within the region as well.”
Far from coal mining country
One project in the prospectus, however, has mining opponents worried the most.
Lock the Gate’s Ellie Smith said there was nothing small scale about Fox Resources’ coking-coal project in Bundaberg.
Ms Smith said the alliance was shocked to see the Fox Resources project included in the prospectus after what she described as unanimous opposition from stakeholders in the past.
“You’ve got the farmers that would have their land resumed for the project, neighbours, communities surrounding the area,” she said.
“We do know that there are coal resources in the area, but the area was deemed to be not acceptable for coal seam gas or shale fracking recently.
The Bundaberg Regional Council expressed its opposition to the coking-coal project last year, but it has since withdrawn from the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils, responsible for creating the report.