Qld: GBRMPA approves dumping of dredge spoil from Abbot Point capital dredging program

On 31 January 2014, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Part Authority (GBRMPA) approved North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation’s (NQBP) application to dispose of dredge spoil within the Great Barrier Marine Park.

The Abbot Point capital dredging program (Project) which was approved by the Environmental Minister, Greg Hunt, on 11 October 2013 (see blog post of 13 December 2013), involves the removal of 3 million cubic meters of spoil in respect of Terminals 0, 2 and 3.

In reaching the decision to approve the proposed dumping, GBRMPA noted that:
  • allowing the Project to proceed as planned would help contain development to existing ports,
  •  the strict environmental conditions imposed on the Project by the federal government would help to protect the reef, and
  •  it would support the use of an alternative site if one is found to be equal to, or better, in terms of environmental or heritage outcomes.

The approved disposal site is located approximately 25 kilometres east-north-east of the Port of Abbot Point, while the investigation zone being assessed for alternative locations is located 20 to 30 kilometres from the area being dredged.
Nevertheless, all dredge spoil is required to be tested by accredited laboratories to ensure that there are no contaminants in the dredge spoil prior to the commencement of dumping. No contaminants have yet been identified.
NQBP has welcomed the approval and has committed to abiding by the strict environmental conditions.

For further information, please contact Jay Leary, Partner, Roger Allingham, Solicitor, Brisbane or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Qld: Government grants Environmental Approval for North-Queensland projects

On 11 October 2013, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt (Minister) approved three North-Queensland projects.

The Minister approved:

  • the Abbot Point capital dredging program which involves removal of 3 million cubic meters of spoil in respect of Terminals 0, 2 and 3, making the Port of Abbot Point one of the world’s largest coal ports;
  • Adani’s T0 Project, a $3 billion, 70mtpa expansion of Terminal 1 at the Port of Abbot Point and associated infrastructure (including a 2.75km outloading jetty and conveyor, new wharves, ship loaders and development of two offshore berths);
  • Arrow Energy’s Curtis Island LNG processing plant, a $17.46 billion project involving a 9.45km underwater gas transmission pipeline from the mainland to Curtis Island.

The Minister’s approval of the projects was accompanied by some of the ‘strictest conditions in Australian history’ due to the potential impact on the Great Barrier Reef. The Minister imposed 95 environmental conditions on the Abbot Point capital dredging program and 53 on the Curtis Island LNG processing plant.

Indian mining giants GVK and Adani Group, the owners of Terminal 3 and Terminal 0 (respectively) stand to benefit most from the Minister’s approval. Both companies are developing significant coal projects (and associated infrastructure) in the Galilee Basin, the coal from which is expected to be exported through the Port of Abbot Point.

The projects mentioned above are all still subject to final investment decision.

For further information, please contact Jay Leary, Partner, Roger Allingham, Graduate, or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.