Hillalong Coal Project
CDM Smith has been working with Queensland Coal Exploration (QCE), who is a wholly owned subsidiary of Shandong Energy Australia Pty Ltd. Shandong Energy Group is among the seven largest Chinese coal companies. They have invested approximately AUD $250 million in Queensland and it is expected that tens of millions of dollars will continue to be invested with in the next 5 to 10 years.
QCE proposes to develop a new open-cut and underground coal mine to be known as the Hillalong Coal Project (the Project). Located near Nebo, west of Mackay in Central Queensland, QCE is seeking approvals from both the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments to develop the Project.
If approved, QCE would commit to substantial capital investment to develop the Hillalong Coal Project which would provide opportunities for employment and businesses, and generate government and export revenues.
The open cut and underground coal mine includes a 20km haul road and rail connection facility and is in close proximity to several large protected areas requiring substantial environmental management considerations in order to meet State and Commonwealth government expectations and legislative requirements.
CDM Smith has been working with QCE to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as is required as part of the Project's approval process under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) respectively.
The objectives of the EIS process are to:
- Describe the environment and its values, and assess the likely impacts of the Project on these;
- Provide interested and affected parties with comprehensive understanding of the Project, its impacts and their management;
- Enable the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments to make informed approval decisions about the Project respectively; and
- Provide a basis to underpin QCE's commitments to stakeholders about the Project.
CDM Smith carried out onsite seasonal fauna and flora surveys, soil sampling and analysis, groundwater modelling and impact analyses based onsite recordings, and surface water flow modelling. The ecology surveys required special focus on detecting the presence of threatened species. Visual impact assessments were carried out using our in-house GIS analyst team and we worked with specialists on an onsite assessment and reporting of cultural heritage values, air quality and noise assessments including management recommendations.
Baseline soil conservation, GQAL and SCL survey works were also required as part of undertaking the environmental assessments with field work done over a Mine Lease Area (MLA) of approximately 3,000 hectares and included hand augering to a depth of 1.5m to classify agricultural land uses identified and provide samples for laboratory analysis for soil conservation management.