Coal mine impact on Sandy Strait in $25,000 spotlight
THE Mary River Catchment Co-ordinating Committee, Greater Mary Association, and Fraser Island Defenders Organisation today established a $25,000 research fund to fund student projects on the impacts of the Colton Coal mine on the Great Sandy Strait.
In a short ceremony in Gympie a Memorandum of Understanding was signed and cheques presented to the Mary River Catchment Co-ordinating Committee that will administer the fund with the assistance of a Research Oversight Committee.
The three sponsors are hoping to double funding to $50,000 during the coming year through fund-raising activities including guided tours of the Great Sandy Strait and donations to enable more student participation and more projects to be properly funded.
Spokesman John Sinclair said that the group wanted to know whether there was sufficient evidence that the discharge of almost a million megalitres of untreated mine water annually into the Mary River so close to the river mouth would impact on the Ramsar listed Wetland of International Significance.
This will flow into the river at Dundathu at the rate of 200 litres per second 24 hours a day irrespective of tide or drought.
"If the research establishes that there are likely serious adverse impacts this will justify the proposed Colton Mine being made a controlled action under the Commonwealth's EPBC Act despite both the State and Federal Governments previously approving the mine,” Dr Sinclair said.
He claimed the "acidic untreated water that will seep continuously into the 50 metre deep open-cut pit will be loaded with toxic heavy metals leeched from the ground water” and said the committee had serious concerns about the levels of cadmium, chromium and manganese.
"We are inviting local students to put in bids to fund projects to show how much of this is likely to be carried and deposited in the Great Sandy Strait and its impact on the mangroves, marine life and food chain,” Dr Sinclair explained.
A Research Oversight Committee from the three partners will select projects that they believe will address the most critical environmental questions and provide answers that give "the best bang for buck.”
Dr Sinclair added that now that the fund has been finalised they will be notifying university lecturers and high schools science teachers to encourage students to submit bids as early in the new academic year as possible so that the committee can start awarding grants by mid March.