This website focuses on the important aesthetic and environmental values of Coral Creek and the threat to this special area posed by the Sonoma Coal Mine.

The story began in 2006, when the mine was first proposed. At that time, the proponent’s environmental impact statement specifically stated that its mining activity would not affect Coral Creek.

Two years later, the company sought to vary its approval so it could carry out mining directly below Coral Creek. The State Government, at the time, determined this expansion did not require a separate EIS despite advising in the amendment of the Environmental Authority (EA )to divert Coral Creek on the 13.4.10 that the level of environmental harm is likely to be significantly increased.

Since then a group of concerned locals have been struggling – against the odds – to ensure that Coral Creek is protected.

We feel badly let down by the political process; this is a case where compromise is possible.

Had the company stuck to its original plans and the original environmental approvals it obtained, we would not be in conflict.

Only 1.4 % of the mine’s coal resource lies in the contentious area under Coral Creek!

Why has the company not been required to stand by its original proposal not to mine this crucial area?


The following study is on public record:

A feasibility study commissioned by Sonoma Mine Management (Feedlot Services Australia Pty Ltd (FSA Consulting), 2009, Coral Creek Diversion – Feasibility Assessment, FSA Consulting Report 7090-1, Toowoomba Office, QLD) made the following statement on page 18: 7 COMMUNITY RESPONSES

The environmental protection of Coral Creek is significant concern to government agencies and the community. This is evident from the number of submissions received during the original development application that related directly to potential impacts on the watercourse.

For reference, a summary of the submissions is provided below in Sections 7.1 to 7.6. It must be noted that given the concern generated in the original EIS, the diversion of Coral Creek may receive severe opposition from various sectors of community.

7.1 Environmental Protection Agency

Clarify whether levee banks will be constructed on Coral Creek and if so make consequential amendments to all relevant sections of the EIS and EM Plan.

7.2 General Public

Will the mine operations interfere with the water quality of Pelican Creek and if so how?

What measures can be employed to prevent downstream flow of eroded material in the event of heavy flooding, high erosion and failure of design?

Can the project ensure that acid waters from the coal washing facilities do not reach the waters of the Nationally Significant Wetland (Birralee-Pelican Creek Aggregation – QLD198), given that Coral creek is a tributary of Pelican Creek?

7.3 Mackay Conservation Group

Concerned about the changed hydrology of the site and the possible adverse downstream effects. Would like to know the likelihood of the creek diversion eroding under rapid runoff, flood conditions and these waters entering the void, causing a mass flow of earth and water spread downstream towards the lower part of Pelican Creek.

7.4 Mackay & Whitsunday Bird Observers Club of Australia and Birds Australia

Would like to how Sonoma is going to protect the Squatter Pigeon, Grey-crowned Babbler and the Australian Bustard other than by the retention of Coral Creek? These species are being impacted in the Bowen Basin by the increase in active coal mines. Concerned clearing of vegetation will cause these species to become extinct and that the creek diversion will damage wildlife habitat.

7.5 Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland

Would like to know why the two mile creek diversion is a bare dirt diversion and why there are no indications of protection from siltation and erosion to downstream areas. What effect will the two-mile creek diversion etc. have on any endangered species?

7.6 Department of Natural Resources, Mines & Water

Correction to the Water Management Plan that Two-mile creek is not a tributary to Coral Creek but both Two-mile and Coral Creek and tributaries of Pelican Creek.

Would like more detail on the proposed drainage and delivery systems associated with the mine and processing plant to assess the impact of the development on the watercourses.

Riparian Value of Coral Creek

Fig 6 of the Water Management Plan indicates that the mine impinges on Coral Creek and the report does not seriously address riparian values associated with Coral Creek. Two channels that converge with Coral Creek are within the mine site. These channels form part of the watercourse as water would be banking ups some distance when Coral Creek is full and hence the proponent will likely require authority under the Water Act before excavating, placing fill or destroying native vegetation within the channels.


Fig 3 of the Water Management Plan indicates that flood waters from Coral Creek (Q100 flood) would naturally spread over northern end of mine site and re-enter Coral Creek. Unsatisfied with the proposed levee bank to the south of the 100m cultural heritage buffer zone in preventing sediment laden run-off from the overburden area entering coral creek on the basis that flood waters tend to go around levee banks. The Water Management Plan does not mention how it will manage run-off/erosion from the freshly installed earthen levee bank from entering coral creek. Believe effectiveness of the proposed flood mitigation processes in preventing contaminants from entering surface waters is unclear. No provisions in the document to effectively manage a spillage/overflow/failure of the co-disposal dam. Runoff from the co-disposal pit is expected to flow east towards Pelican creek and Two-mile creek and not Coral creek.

Management Strategies

Bird (2005) recommends a 200 m buffer along Coral Creek rather than the proposed protection buffer of ≥ 100 m. Study area surveyed in Bird (2005) recorded a higher concentration of cultural heritage sites than Bird (2004). Strategies for cultural heritage management should include arrangements for additional ‘finds’ during initial earthworks. The CHMP (Cultural Heritage Management Plan) should include management for cultural heritage places covered in Bird (2004) and Bird (2005).(Bird, M 2004, ‘Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment Study, Proposed Sonoma Mining Project’, in QCoal. Bird 2006, Environmental Impact Statement, QCoal Pty Ltd, Brisbane,Queensland.)

Why has the company not been required to stand by its original proposal not to mine this crucial area?