Roche said that while the industry was “on track to export more than 200 million tonnes of coal in 2010-11…extensive flooding across our main coal-producing regions – the Bowen and Surat Basins – cost some 40 million tonnes in scheduled production and exports” which translated in $7 billion dollars in lost sales.
He cited the “cumbersome environmental processes under the previous state government” as having prevented the opportunity to pump out the pits while local rivers and streams flowed strongly, resulting in mines still holding around 250 to 300 gigalitres of water. some 19 months later.
The QRC is seeking a transition program from the state government to start shifting water this wet season and over subsequent wet seasons. According to Roche, “this is not about compromising environmental standards, but taking advantage of the heavy rainfall that nature traditionally throws at central and north Queensland over summer. In this case, dilution is the solution.”
Coal companies are reportedly investing strongly in preparation for the wet season including the construction of additional on-site water storages, pipelines, pumps and water treatment plant.