Cape Alumina has suspended all work on its Pisolite Hills mine and port project in Queensland after the state government banned mining over the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve and the Bertiehaugh Cattle Station.
In announcing the move, the company said it would undertake a full review of all its other operations in Queensland.
Development of the mine was put on hold in October 2010 after the state government at the time imposed 500 metre wide buffer zones around waterways in the project area.
In October 2012, the new government declared the project as significant, prompting Cape Alumina to revisit its development.
The Steve Irwin Wildlife reserve overlies a major part of the mine project and resource, with the company stating the government’s decision “sterilises this”.
Cape Alumina said it would review its legal rights and may challenge the government’s decision.
The company’s managing director Graeme Sherlock said the move was a sad day for Queensland’s mining industry.
“The decision is also disappointing for the Traditional Land Owners of the project area and the Aboriginal people of western Cape York,” Sherlock said.
“We were completely surprised by this decision and expected that the future of the project would be determined through a genuine and rigorous environmental assessment process.”
The company said it has spent more than $20 million on the project, stating that the government did not need to make the move to ban mining.
The company also announced a planned merger with MetroCoal would be canned as a result of the government’s decision.
Metrocoal chairman Steve Everett said the company had no choice but to halt the merger.
“The proposed merger is no longer in the best interest of MetroCoal shareholders,” Everett said.
“MetroCoal and Cape Alumina were given no prior warning of the government’s intentions and are bitterly disappointed with this outcome, which is confusing, frustrating in the extreme and goes against all prior indications and consultation.”
In announcing the decision, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said it would protect Queensland’s most environmentally significant areas.
“When finalised, this declaration will protect these unique areas from open cut and strip mining, and other activities that risk widespread impacts to their ecological integrity.” Newman said.
“We plan to offer similar protections to environmentally important areas across Queensland under legislation to be introduced into State Parliament today by my colleague the Deputy Premier.”
Newman made the announcement alongside Terri and Bindi Irwin.
“It’s the most pristine land on planet Earth and we are just thrilled,” Bindi Irwin said.
“This is probably the greatest day of my life so really happy, completely amazed and just, wow.
“We’ll continue to carry on in dad’s footsteps and make sure this land continues – this is amazing.”