The answer to that, in the case of the privately owned 8000 ha Bimblebox property in the Desert Uplands of Central West Queensland, is still up in the air.
The full story of the ongoing fight to save Bimblebox Nature Reserve is told in the documentary, Bimblebox, which will be screened by North Queensland Conservation Council at Dance North Theatre, Cnr Stanley and Walker Sts, at 7.30pm on Tuesday 17 April.
Bimblebox has been the subject of a formal conservation agreement between its owners and the Queensland Government since 2003. But when mining companies can be given the right to extract minerals found under private land – as is the case in Queensland – even the owners of Bimblebox, and of other Nature Reserves around Queensland, are feeling decidedly nervous.
If Clive Palmer’s ‘China First’ mining plans get the tick, 52% of Bimblebox would become an open-cut coal mine, the rest an underground coal mine.
Bimblebox was purchased in 2000, at a time when Queensland’s land clearing rates were amongst the highest in the world. In 2003, the owners and the Queensland government signed the Bimblebox Nature Refuge Agreement under the Nature Conservation Act to permanently protect the conservation values of the property.
And then Clive Palmer entered the picture.
Palmer’s company, Waratah Coal, obtained an exploration permit that covers all of Bimblebox and parts of the surrounding properties. In late September 2011 the company detailed its plans to extract 40 mega-tonnes of coal per year from what will be called the ‘China First’ mine, and to transport the coal on a yet-to-be-built rail line to Abbot Point, from where it would be shipped through the Great Barrier Reef on its way to China.
Tickets: MaryWho? Bookshop or at the door if not sold out. (To pre-purchase tickets on Magnetic Island, call 47581003)
$5 (concession), $10 (regular), $20 (supporter)
Proceeds to the Bimblebox campaign and NQCC