Sand mining on North Stradbroke Island is to substantially cease by 2019, with the Queensland Parliament voting in favour of the phase-out.
The North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2015 to end sand mining was passed in the Queensland Parliament overnight.
Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said it was a good result for the environment and would ultimately open up new and exciting opportunities for the island community, leading to positive economic outcomes.
“Today marks the start of a new chapter for North Stradbroke Island,” Dr Miles said.
“The debate is over. Sand mining was always going to end on North Stradbroke Island.
“The community, the business sector, traditional owners and new investors, supported by the Palaszczuk Government, can now move forward to transition North Stradbroke Island away from sand mining to new exciting, sustainable jobs of the future.”
QRC chief executive Michael Roche said that in passing the bill to end sand mining on North Stradbroke Island in 2019, the Queensland parliament had delivered a trifecta of pain for the state’s resources sector.
“In a mere five weeks the parliament has backed the Palaszczuk government’s ill-conceived Chain of Responsibility law which has sent shockwaves through industry and it has created open slather for objections in the courts to mining projects, even allowing people or entities in foreign countries to object to a Queensland mining project,” he said.
“To cap it off, the parliament has backed the government’s bill to close sand mining operations with the loss of up to 153 full-time jobs in Sibelco’s mineral sands business.
“There will also be a severe flow-on effect with hundreds more contractors and businesses that rely on the Sibelco mine on the island also greatly impacted.”
Sibelco said the decision would have the greatest impact on the 69 Sibelco employees who called Straddie home.
It said Sibelco contributed $13 million in annual employment spend on the Island.
“To close down the mine in 2019 will put our workers, many of whom are multi-generational miners and highly skilled, out of a job. Not to mention the up to 300 people, according to RPS consultants, who are indirectly supported by Sibelco’s North Stradbroke Island operations,” the company said.
Dr Miles said ‘Straddie’ had the potential to be one of the state’s greatest tourism assets, so it was important to open up the island to all Queenslanders.
“It is a place of incredible conservation value and special habitats including mangroves, wetlands, endangered heathlands, old growth forests, freshwater lakes and woodlands,” he said.
“These habitats are home to threatened animal and plant species including orchids, as well as a genetically distinct population of the koala.
“We widely consulted on the draft Bill and are pleased to have achieved support to protect the environment and unlock positive economic change for the island.”
“Our vision is for Minjerribah to be a global eco-cultural tourism destination, and we now look forward to getting on with business,” he said.
Opposition Mines spokesman Andrew Cripps said Labor’s laws to shut down sand mining on North Stradbroke Island by 2019 would throw the local community into further turmoil and broke an election promise to create jobs in Queensland, not axe them.
“North Stradbroke Island businesses, the Straddie Chamber of Commerce, the local community and a large number of traditional owners have condemned Labor’s so-called Economic Transition Strategy as completely inadequate to replace the hundreds of jobs that will be lost,” he said.
“The LNP Opposition remains firmly of the view that a 2035 closure date is the most sensible timeframe for the end of sand mining on North Stradbroke Island, providing for an orderly transition for the local economy and employees.”