Mining warns laws could cost jobs and threaten projects

TWO multi-national mining companies with operations in Central Queensland are warning that new planning laws being considered by the state government could cost hundreds of jobs and threaten billion-dollar projects

The Regional Planning Interests bill introduced late last year by Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney is designed to draw a line between where the resources industry can develop and farming, environmental or residential areas that need to be protected.

Submissions closed on January 17, however a public discussion meeting is to be held in Toowoomba from 9.30am today(THURSDAY).

Swiss resources giant Glencore, formerly Xstrata, and London-led miner Rio Tinto fear their projects could land in the crosshairs because they each fall inside the "Western Cropping Zone".

Glencore fears its $200 million proposed Rolleston expansion project, south of Emerald, could be put in jeopardy by the flagged changes.

If it was required to undergo more assessments and approvals on top of those already secured, Glencore warns its Rolleston mine could shut as early as 2015, costing more than 800 jobs.

An estimated 825 million tonnes of coal would also go unmined, costing the government millions in lost royalties.

Rio Tinto believes this could pose a threat and "create uncertainty" around its already-operating Kestrel coal mine developed at a cost of $2 billion.

In its submission on the bill, Rio Tinto warned it would likely have to apply to continue running Kestrel, a mine with more than 500 workers.

The Queensland Resources Council is asking the government to consider "grandfathering" mining approvals so they would be protected from the changes.

The final report on the bill will be presented to Parliament by March 17.



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