By Vivien von Drehnen, Tom Kojrowicz
Farmers in the Kingaroy region in the state’s south are battling Queensland Bauxite Limited over the company’s plans to drill the area for minerals.
It is the second battle for Kingaroy farmers over mineral resources this year after defeating Cougar Energy in February regarding gas projects.
Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group secretary John Dalton says the company notified residents of plans to access more than 7,000 square kilometres of land after State Government approval was given.
“We did some research and found that the Government had approved Queensland Bauxite to go and do this exploration and they were hoping to begin drilling in all the red soil areas of south Bernhardt,” he said.
“Soils up here that have been producing for 120 years of sustainable farming and will do into the future.”
Queensland Bauxite chief operations officer Mark Derriman says the experiential drilling says operations will only go ahead if the bauxite is of sufficient thickness or grade.
“Our exploration permit currently only entitles us to have a look and not to mine and then the Government will determine whether they give us the mining lease,” he said.
“One of the factors they’ll take into account when considering the mining lease is the local community issues.”
Although the project is in preliminary stages, South Bernhardt Mayor David Carter says farmers are not happy.
“It hasn’t gone well at the moment I don’t believe and certainly there’s a number of farmers and people out there who do have issues with it,” he said.
Farmer Gary Tessman says although it is currently an exploration project, activity may escalate very quickly.
“By the same token, you don’t come to drill without the intention to do something in the long term,” he said.