Coral Creek near Collinsville – 70km inland from the Queensland Whitsunday Coast – is a major waterway threatened by an engineered diversion to mine coal underneath with 100,000 tonnes of soil predicted to run into the Burdekin Delta, the Coral Sea and onto the Great Barrier Reef.
Geology students travel for 3 hours from Townsville to visit the unique coal & fossil seams visible in Coral Creek that are now threatened by mining. The mining and geological history of Collinsville will be valuable for the future of our community and the state of Queensland.
With its high ecological & heritage values & natural beauty, Coral Creek is treasured by the local community.
The Sonoma Coal Mine operates an open cut pit up to 30m from the top bank of Coral Creek. The coal pit and overburden stockpiles are located 3km from homes in the Collinsville Old Town and about 6km from the Collinsville Post Office.
Less than 2 years after Sonoma Coal Mine began operating, a proposal was made to divert Coral Creek so that coal reserves lying beneath could be mined. The original Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project promised a buffer zone to protect Coral Creek.
This proposal is a result of the application of the maximisation of the take from a mine lease design principle. In this case the coal deposit under Coral Creek represents 1.4% of the total for Sonoma mine.
We have studied expert reports on the Coral Creek diversion and find that a high rate of erosion will occur that will continue for decades and the creek will not return to a natural state because the design does not emulate the hyporheic zone² on the creek banks and bed.
(1) Cape Tribulation is the only other place on the Great Barrier Reef coast where coral grows on the mainland coast.
(2) The hyporheic zone is located at the interface of aquifers and rivers, and comprises the sediments in which there is exchange and mixing of groundwater and river water. It is an important zone for pollutant, energy and carbon cycling, and may be an important component of the riverine habitat. (http://www.hyporheic.net/)
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