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Queensland’s huge untapped Galilee coal basin was touted as a jobs and revenue bonanza by its supporters, with the potential to liberate hundreds of millions of tonnes of harmful greenhouse gases. The Galilee’s potential as a “carbon bomb” was wrapped up in a dozen or more coalmining projects and estimates of billions of dollars of investment..But slowly the projects – and the jobs claims – have fallen away..
The Degulla mine had an estimated 35m tonnes of coal a year waiting to be dug. But in 2013 its Brazil-based owner Vale, one of the world’s biggest miners, put the project on the market.
The Chinese-owned Macmines Austasia abandoned its bid for a mining lease for its $6.7bn China Stone mine in 2019.
A state environmental assessment for another mine, the South Galilee Coal project, lapsed in late 2019. The project’s part-owner had already gone into administration and there’s little sign of action from the mine’s American investor.
Hancock Prospecting has interests in two mines and Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal also has two mine projects identified.
So far, just one project has made it through the starting gate – Adani’s controversial Carmichael mine, which sent its first coal to port late last year. The mine was supposed to be the first of many. Yet there is little sign of more coal to come, with many projects shelved, lapsed or discontinued, and uncertain futures for those that remain. The mine still retains approvals to mine up to 60m tonnes of coal a year for export to power stations. But the company has said the project is currently downscaled to a 10m-tonne-a-year operation.