There are plans to expand ports and build new mega ports right along the coastline of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Port of Gladstone is the fifth largest coal export terminal in the world and the largest multi-commodity port in Queensland. There are two coal terminals at Gladstone port: Barney Point Coal Terminal and RG Tanna Coal Terminal. Between the two terminals there are 30 huge stockpiles of coal, with a capacity to export 78 million tonnes per annum.
The Queensland Government approved a new coal port terminal on Wiggins Island, in Gladstone Harbour, and construction is underway. This will require 6.3 million tonnes of seafloor to be dredged and dumped.
As part of the expansion of the Port of Gladstone, the development of three Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) processing plants and terminals on Curtis Island has pushed ahead. Plans for a fourth processing plant are underway. The Western Basin Project has been approved to deepen channels and provide berthing facilities for these LNG plants on Curtis Island and the western side of the Port of Gladstone. So far dredging for this project has totalled over 15 million tonnes, with 4.4 million tonnes dumped on the East Banks spoil ground in the World Heritage Area.
Fitzroy Delta and Balaclava Island
The Mitchell Group have plans to build a new coal terminal adjacent to Raglan Creek, a 13 km rail line through the estuary, and a 3 km conveyor belt through floodplains. The project will have the capacity to export 22 million tonnes of coal per annum.
The Fitzroy Delta is listed as a Nationally Important Wetland and the mouth of the Fitzroy River is the largest river catchment feeding the Great Barrier Reef. This is the second largest catchment in Australia, spanning 142,536 km².
There are proposals to build a 35 million tonnes per annum coal export facility at Balaclava Island in the Fitzroy Delta. This will require large amounts of dredging and result in an additional 60 bulk carriers in the area per year.
Ships will queue and anchor in a 2 km diameter zone off the coast of Peak Island – a highly protected conservation zone.
North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation Limited (NQBP) is proposing the construction of two coal port terminals at Dudgeon Point.
NQBP currently hold 1400 ha of land at Dudgeon Point. If the development is approved, the new coal terminals will have the capacity to export 180 million tonnes of coal per annum.
The proposed terminal will be large enough for super ships nearly 300 m long.
Plans for Abbot Point will make it the world’s largest coal port – less than 50 km from the Whitsunday Islands.
Three new major terminal expansions are proposed for Abbot Point and these are referred to as Terminal 0 (T0), Terminal 2 (T2) and Terminal 3 (T3).
Green turtles are known to nest on beaches adjacent to the proposed new coal terminals at Abbot Point. The waters between Abbot Point and the Whitsunday Islands are a humpback whale gathering area.
The port sits alongside the Caley Valley wetlands, one of the largest intact wetland systems between Townsville and Bowen.
Wongai – Cape York
A new mining proposal, Cape York’s first coal mine, is proposed to extract 1.5 million tonnes per annum of coking coal from the Laura Basin (north of Galilee Basin). This project has recently been given special development status by the Queensland Government. Wongai is 150 km north of Cooktown and near Cape Melville National Park and Princess Charlotte Bay.
The Port of Townsville is proposing a major expansion to provide more berths and landside facilities, deepen the existing channel and provide an outer harbour. This will result in another large dredging program that would see up to 6 million tonnes of dredge spoil dumped in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.