Tanya Plibersek killed off Clive Palmer’s coal mine. It’s an Australian first – but it may never happen again

9 Feb 2023

Associate Professor Justine Bell-James writes for The Conversation | Follow Justine Bell-James on Twitter

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has formally rejected mining magnate Clive Palmer’s proposed Central Queensland Coal Project. Her decision was based on the risk of damage to the Great Barrier Reef, freshwater creeks and groundwater.

The 20-year open-cut mine project would have extracted up to 10 million tonnes of metallurgical coal – used to make steel – each year.

Plibersek’s decision is significant. It’s the first time a coal mine has been refused in the two decades our federal environment law has been in place. But those hoping the decision sets a precedent for other mine proposals are likely to be disappointed.

Palmer’s mine was not refused on climate change grounds. Objectors to coal mines will still need to persuade the federal government of the link between future coal mine developments and global warming.