The Galilee Basin, one of Queensland’s most promising yet untapped mining regions, is set to soon see development due to government initiatives to open up the area.
On June 16, the Queensland government officially announced the Galilee Basin State Development Area (SDA), a step that will introduce almost 30,000 jobs in the state. As one of the central parts of the plan, two multi-use rail corridors will be the focus of development – promising the ability to service up to six potential mines.
Previous government plans had proposed that each of these mines build their own rail line to the basin, which would have created a potentially confusing network of rail tracks intruding onto properties in the region. This approach has since been modified however, with the total basin rail zone slashed by a staggering 94 per cent.
“We have told resource proponents they can access just two corridors totalling 690 kilometres – one from the southern and one from the central end of the basin,” explained Jeff Seeney, deputy premier and minister for state development, infrastructure and planning.
“This declaration delivers on our government’s commitment to properly plan in a coordinated way for the development of coal mines and associated infrastructure in the Galilee, while minimising potential impacts on land owners, regional communities and the environment.”
In total, the new and revised SDA covers 106,000 hectares and affects just 74 landholders. This is a vast improvement on the 1.8 million hectares and 1,400 landholders outlined in the draft plan.
Mr Seeney added that even more reductions will come into effect in the future.
“Currently the State Development Area is around 500 metres wide, however once more detailed rail line designs are finalised and approved by the Coordinator-General, the rail corridor will be reduced to about 60 to 100 metres wide,” he stated.
“We promised to deliver better infrastructure and planning, and that’s exactly what we’re doing in the Galilee Basin.”
With the interests of all stakeholders to take into account, the decision by the Queensland government to drastically reduce the proposed Galilee Basin rail zone seems wise indeed. With efficiency – even in limited networks – a key consideration in railway engineering, it will be interesting to see how the development pans out in the future.
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