Australia rejects a coal mine near Great Barrier Reef due to risk of ‘irreversible damage’

The Australian government on Wednesday rejected a proposal for a new open-cut coal mine near the Great Barrier Reef, citing environmental regulations and the risk of “irreversible damage”.

The mining project, proposed by controversial Australian businessman Clive Palmer, is less than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the reef on the Queensland coast, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) northwest of Brisbane. Occurs on

Tanya Plibersek, the environment and water minister, indicated last year that she intended to reject the mine and made her decision official on Wednesday. He said this is the first time a federal environment minister has rejected a mine using his powers under environmental laws.

In rejecting the plan, Plibersek cited significant potential environmental threats to the reef, which is already at high risk from climate change.

“The risk of contamination and irreversible reef damage is very real. The project would have had unacceptable impacts on the area’s freshwater and potentially fragile seagrass meadows,” Plibersek said. said in a video Posted on social media.

He said during the public consultation period, his department received 9,000 public comments about the mine in just 10 business days.

The government is under pressure from UNESCO to better protect the reef and, in 2022, pledged one billion Australian dollars ($700 million) to protect the fragile ecosystem, including climate adaptation measures and water quality programs. .

Last year, the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches for more than 2,300 kilometers (1,429 miles), experienced its sixth mass bleaching event due to warming waters caused by climate change.

The government, which was elected in 2022, came to power promising tough climate action in a country still tied to fossil fuels. But its climate policies have been branded “inadequate” by the Climate Action Tracker, which found Australia is not on track to meet targets to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The government has rejected calls from the country’s Green Party to reject all new fossil fuel projects.

Central Queensland Coal, Palmer’s company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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