PRECIOUS LAND: John Dalton, Gary Tessmann and Neralie O’Sullivan are concerned about any move to explore mining on prime agricultural land.
PRECIOUS LAND: John Dalton, Gary Tessmann and Neralie O’Sullivan are concerned about any move to explore mining on prime agricultural land. Barclay White

Coal mine on outskirts of Kingaroy one step closer

MORETON Resources is pushing ahead with plans for a potential coal mine on the outskirts of Kingaroy, and local landholders are not happy.

The Brisbane-based mining company moved its South Burnett coal project to pre-feasibility status, to discover if a mine would be financially sustainable.

Moreton CEO Jason Elks announced the move last week, the latest step in a long running goal of the company to explore the possibility of a second South Burnett coal mine.

But Mr Elks wants the sometimes hostile dialogue with local landholders to be a thing of the past.

"In the last two years Moreton Resources has gone to great lengths to engage with communities associated with all our sites," he said.

"Our position has always been one of openness and transparency."

He met with concerned landholders a fortnight ago, and tried to placate concerns about the advancement.

But Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group member and landholder John Dalton said residents in the area were still deeply suspicious of Moreton Resources.

"The same questions still remain," Mr Dalton said.

"We think this is a PR exercise to regain share value."

The questions he wants answered are who Moreton could sell any coal to, as Tarong Power Station Stanwell Corporation has stated Meandu and Kunioon have enough for the life of the station.

Mr Elks said finding a potential buyer was not on the cards yet and the current focus was discovering "do we actually have a product to sell".

He anticipated the study would take six to 12 months, when tests and studies will be conducted on land in the exploration area 10km south of Kingaroy.

If the project does ever become a reality Mr Dalton was concerned about what it could mean for the immediate area, as well as Kingaroy.

"I think Kingaroy would lose its clean, green reputation," Mr Dalton said.

"But the minute anyone mentions jobs and economic opportunity people forget the facts."

He said the group was not against mining, and supported Meandu because of its distance from prime agricultural land.

But Mr Elks said South Burnett would reap the benefits and would mean "significant jobs" for the area.

"We feel the benefits to the South Burnett will be significant," he said.