International mining company Queensland Energy Resources (QER) announced plans to commence work on the McFarlane oil shale deposit, stretching from Proserpine airport and across the nationally listed Goorganga wetlands and into Great Barrier Reef Marine Park waters in Repulse Bay.
Oil shale is one of the fossil fuel industry’s dirtiest fuels. It involves superheating the rock to extract and condense a synthetic kerogen. It would have been an open pit mine, 20km x 15km (approximate) at the gateway to the Whitsundays. And the project was supported by then Mayor Mike Brunker.
An experimental pilot plant at Gladstone/Targinnie ran for several years, resulting in serious accidents and explosions which sent toxic clouds of emissions rolling across the Targinnie farmlands. The plant was closed. Farmlands were destroyed. The State Government bought out farmers on condition they signed confidentiality agreements.
We believe many of the affected people have since fallen ill with cancers but no formal attempt has been made to study the impacts from the mine fallout. One farmer, Peter Harland, did not sign and spoke at the public rally in Airlie Beach.
We thank Greenpeace and the Mackay Conservation Group for their support in ending this sorry saga.
The Bligh Government imposed a 20 year moratorium on the project. This expires in 2029.