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ABC 7.30 - 9 March 2021

Olive Downs is a metallurgical coal mine 40km south-east of Moranbah, within 5km of 25 operating coal mines. The coal from this site is steelmaking coal, of a higher grade of coal and is used to produce coke, the essential ingredient in the production of steel.

It was declared a coordinated project under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 (SDPWO Act) on 17 February 2017.

The Coordinator-General required Pembroke Resources (Pembroke) to prepare an EIS for the project which then progressed through the statutory EIS process under the SDPWO Act; including public notification and consultation with government advisory agencies.

The public and government advisory agencies were invited to make submissions on:

  • draft terms of reference adequately covers all the matters the project proponent must address when preparing the EIS; and
  • draft EIS and the revised EIS adequately addresses the terms of reference, including the project’s potential environmental impacts and the effectiveness of measures the proponent proposes to manage those impacts.

At the conclusion of the EIS process, the then Coordinator-General released a report evaluating the EIS on 13 May 2019. The Coordinator-General considered the EIS documentation submitted by the proponent, all advice received from government advisory agencies and public submissions. All impacts were assessed on merit and conditions were included in the evaluation report that he regarded as appropriate to ensure that post-mining, the land will be stable, safe and non-polluting.

An evaluation report is not a project approval that allows a project to commence and does not exempt a proponent of obligation to apply to the relevant authorities and obtain all necessary approvals; including a mining lease and environmental authority.

Pembroke applied to the Department of Environment and Science for an environmental authority for the project prior to the commencement of the government’s new rehabilitation provisions (Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018). The environmental authority application was required to be assessed under the transitional provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

For more information, please read the full Evaluation Report that can be found at:


  • In response to submissions received on the draft environmental impact statement, including the submission from the Department of Environment and Science, the then Coordinator-General decided to seek additional information from the proponent in relation to a range of issues, including further information about final voids, groundwater, groundwater dependent ecosystems and flood risks to neighbouring properties. Pembroke submitted the additional information, referred to as a revised draft EIS, to the Coordinator-General on 21 March 2019.  This additional information was sent to the Department of Environment and Science for further review and comment.

  • Subsequent to the May 2019 submission from the Department of Environment and Science, the then Coordinator-General sought further information from the proponent in relation to the proposal to leave final voids and waste rock emplacements. Pembroke provided additional information which was considered by the Coordinator-General prior to the release of the evaluation report.

  • As stated in the CGER, the then Coordinator-General “consider(ed) the proposed final voids to represent a manageable and relatively low risk to environmental values.  Taking into account the overall benefits of the project for the region and state”.

    Note that Pembroke advice that the project will create 500 construction jobs and 1000 operational jobs for the next 80 years. Pembroke also estimate $8 billion will be added to the local economy, and $10 billion to the State economy.

  • The Coordinator-General regarded Pembroke’s proposed conditions for rehabilitation as consistent with the expectations of the regulatory framework which applied to the project. The Olive Downs Project was a transitional project under the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Act 2018. This meant that the new progressive rehabilitation framework did not apply to the project.  The CGER states the proposed conditions “would ensure that there is no uncontrolled release of water from the final voids to the Isaac River floodplain.”

  • The Coordinator-General sought additional information from Pembroke in relation to the Department of Environment and Science requests in October 2018 and May 2019.

Toni Power

Last updated: 09 Nov 2021