Article – Galilee Basin water project a 'win-win' for miners and farmers

6 January 2014
Isobel Roe and Carmen Brown
ABC Rural
Approval is being sought for a major river diversion project in north Queensland, which aims to provide a reliable source of water for miners and irrigations.
Galilee Water is driving the development, which aims to divert water from the Cape and Campaspe Rivers, south of Charters Towers, to supply mining companies and pastoralists.
If approved, diversion channels will transfer up to 35,000 megalitres per day from the rivers to “deep cell” storage facilities, before being supplied to customers via an underground pipeline.
Chairman, Keith De Lacy, says the project would provide a centralised solution to the region’s water needs, and eliminate the mining industry’s reliance on groundwater reserves.
“We thought that a centralised solution would be far superior than ad-hoc, piecemeal solutions for the different mines,” he said.
“What we’re proposing, and we think this is the way of the future, is off-river storage, diversions from streams.
“It’s much more sustainable, it’s deep water so there’s much less evaporation.
“It would eliminate the need for any of the mining companies to access the underground water, and there would be water left over we hope, that we would provide more than just the mines.
“So it’s just a win-win situation for everyone.”
The project has been referred to the Federal Department for Environment, to determine if further Commonwealth assessments and approvals are required.
Council ‘surprised’ by water proposal
While the project could deliver significant benefits to local farmers and the broader community, the proposal has come as a surprise to the Charters Towers Regional Council.
Mayor Frank Beveridge says there’s been little consultation with the council, which is already dealing with a number of other companies hoping to develop water projects in the region.
“We have had a number of [proposed] projects in the Cape River area, so we’ll be interested to see if this one advances and if there’s some agreement to take water out of this area,” he said.
“But we were taken a little bit by surprise, it could happen, it’s a wait and see attitude at the moment.
“Obviously the world is moving towards demand for food, and perhaps not as much coal, but we hope the Adani project gets off the ground.
“In this region we also have some large-scale agricultural projects that we hope to develop, obviously this is played at a higher level than local government, but we would certainly like to see both projects get off the ground.”
A mine dump truck in northern Australia
Courtesy of ABC Rural