Wongai underground coal mine project in Cape York

July 2013: The proponent is preparing the environmental impact statement (EIS). 

Click here to view the final EIS guidelines.

About the proposal

Aust-Pac Capital Pty Ltd is proposing to construct and operate a new underground coal mine in Cape York, Queensland.  The proposed coal mine development will involve:

  • Extracting coking coal from land identified in an agreement with the State government in 2006 as being set aside for economic development
  • Mining 1.5 million tonnes of coal per annum
  • Transferring the extracted coal via conveyors to a barge loading facility and loading it into the hull of covered barges
  • Transferring the covered barges to a waiting ship moored in deep water adjacent to the shipping channel.

The proposed development will include:

  • Geotechnical and exploration activities
  • Construction and operational activities associated with site access
  • Mining and exporting of approximately 1.5 million tonnes of coking coal
  • Stockpile areas
  • Ancillary infrastructure
  • Amenities
  • Associated infrastructure including offices, training centre, workshops, accommodation camp, caretakers houses, roadworks, onsite power generation, potable water treatment plant, stormwater management system, provisioning, sewage treatment, navigational aids, fire fighting infrastructure, development of a barge loading facility, jetty and moorings and ultimate decommissioning of the mine.
  • New transport infrastructure will be developed and existing transport infrastructure upgraded to provide all weather road, air and water access to the project site.

About the area

The project site is 320km north of Cairns and 150km North West of Cooktown, within the Laura Basin. The Bathurst Bay and Princess Charlotte Bay areas are biologically significant areas for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.  It is home to a number of threatened and endangered species.  It is also an area of significant cultural and heritage values associated with the Flinders Island group.

The application requirements

The proposed Wongai underground coal mine project was determined to be a controlled action by SEWPAC in September 2011 as it was recognised that the project could have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance.

View the full referral application, decision and assessment approach documents.

On 18 April 2012, the Coordinator-General declared the project to be a ‘significant project’ under section 26(1)(a) of the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (Qld) which requires the proponent to prepare an EIS for the project.

View Queensland's Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning decision and assessment approach documents.

Application for a Marine Parks permission

The proposed action will require a permit under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975, as components of the development are proposed to be located in the Marine Park. Therefore, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) will assess the application, in accordance with the following legislation:

The GBRMPA will also provide advice to SEWPAC on matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act.

Environmental impact statement assessment process

The proponent of the Wongai underground coal mine project (Aust-Pac Capital Pty Ltd) will be required to prepare an EIS which describes the potential impact that the project could have on the environment.  The proponent is preparing the EIS.

Click here to view the final EIS guidelines.

GBRMPA assessment

Any activity that may impact the Marine Park, specifically the proposed barge loading facility and relevant coal loading and offloading activities will be assessed by the GBRMPA.

Consideration of the application will be in accordance with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983, noting:

  • Mandatory considerations (Regulation 88Q):  which includes amongst others the impact of the proposed action on the environment, social, cultural and heritage values of the Marine Park, written comments received about the application in response to the public advertisement, and other matters relevant to the orderly and proper management of the Marine Park.
  • Discretionary considerations (Regulation 88R): which includes the impact the proposed action will have on the public appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of the Marine Park, the cumulative impacts (if any) of the proposed action.

The GBRMPA will consider the impacts of the proposal on all aspects of the marine park, including matters raised in public submissions.

GBRMPA policies

The proposal will be assessed in accordance with the GBRMPA policies and management approaches including: