Let’s Talk: The Barrier Reef is dying, but let’s mine some more coal

The news has been confronting this week for the Great Barrier Reef.  Coral bleaching is destroying our northernmost part of the

The news has been confronting this week for the Great Barrier Reef.  Coral bleaching is destroying our northernmost part of the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem.  In fact, it is experiencing “the worst mass bleaching event in its history,” according to a statement released Tuesday March 29th by the Australian Research Council.

Yet on the same week, the likelihood of Queensland’s largest ever coal mine going ahead became quite real with the approval of three mining leases to Adani in the Galilee Basin.   The approved leases are 70441 Carmichael, 70505 Carmichael East and 70506 Carmichael North, which are estimated to contain 11 billion tonnes of thermal coal according to the Government’s promotional announcement that came out with the announcement of the leases today.

The three individual mining leases are needed to move forward with the $21.7 billion Carmichael coal, mine and rail project which people say could create up to 10,000 jobs, but which has been contentiously debated.


The reef’s damage is said to be being caused by nitrogen runoffs and land-based pollution, and the plans and targets set by the government are unlikely to be met according to the Global Change Biology journal.

Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) principal research scientist Dr Frederieke Kroon has spoken with some frustration.

“Land-based pollution including sediments, nutrients and pesticides from agricultural land uses remain one of the major threats to the Great Barrier Reef,” Dr Kroon said.

The reef damage has been documented by the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce (NCBT) in aerial surveys, with observations of more than 500 coral reefs spanning 2,485 miles (4,000 kilometers) showing that the majority of reefs were undergoing extensive and severe bleaching.

Dredging, and the fallout sediments from it is one of the issues flagged to be a concern to the reef in many public debates.

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham confirmed no dredging at Abbot Point would take place until Adani had demonstrated financial closure but that doesn’t mean .

The Premier of Queensland also said in a statement that “stringent conditions would continue to protect the environment, landholders’ and traditional owners’ interests and Great Barrier Reef”.

How do you feel about this conflict of circumstances in Queensland today?  Let’s talk about what you think is more important?  Coal and jobs or our Great Barrier Reef, and can we manage to have both?