Respected expert says coal exporters akin to drug dealers

A DECORATED and respected Queensland academic considers Queensland's coal exporters akin to drug dealers, trafficking their product to overseas markets.

Professor Ian Lowe - an emeritus professor with Griffith University's School of Science - made the comments ahead of a Land Court case pitting environmental advocates Coast and Country Association Queensland against GVK Hancock, a multi-national planning to develop at least three coal mines in western Queensland's Galilee Basin.

He is also the Australian Conservation Foundation's Queensland president.

Prof Lowe gave testimony during another high-profile battle between green groups and industry, when Friends of the Earth took on Xstrata-Glencore's now-shelved plans to build the Wandoan coal mine north-west of Toowoomba last year.

In that case, the Land Court found the state had no jurisdiction over how other countries used the coal, no matter the amount of emissions.

Coast and Country is challenging the decision as part of their case against GVK.

Prof Lowe said Queensland must be made responsible for the consequences of this coal being exported, no different from how Australia would arrest someone planning to peddle narcotics overseas.

"No one's health is affected if I sell you heroin," Prof Lowe said.

"But once you inject it, your bloodstream and health are affected.

"The inevitable consequence is that the coal will be burnt."

Prof Lowe said a win for both Coast and Country - and other parties involved against GVK - would be a recognition that expanding the mining industry was "criminally irresponsible".

The Queensland Resources Council declined to comment.