A Mareeba farmer has warned Tableland landowners that dealing with coal seam gas mining companies can take a heavy toll on family life, finances and the environment.
FNQ Lock the Gate Alliance has been holding meetings in the far north campaigning against unconventional gas extraction after an application to explore for coal and gas was made over the historic Mt Mulligan coal field, northwest of Dimbulah.
Speaking at a gathering of landowners at Dimbulah on Sunday, Kane Booth said his involvement with coal seam gas extraction on one of his farming properties had placed a heavy burden on his personal life and distracted from his ability to run the business.
“I have been dealing with gas companies wanting to access our family’s Chinchilla property for five years and it has been a big financial effort to fight them which has placed a hold on our feedlot business forcing us to sell cattle at a loss,” Mr Booth said.
The (CSG) fracking process had already destroyed a part of the underground water aquifer in the district where some water bore levels have dropped and he said that he had seen a film where bore water can be light with a match.
“I am warning the local traditional owners at Mt Mulligan that there will be very little money or jobs in any gas activities and I hope people don’t think they will be getting much work from this industry,” Mr Booth said.
“When the exploration stage finishes there will be no local jobs available because most companies use fly-in-fly-out workers.”
Protest group Knitting Nannas Against Gas (KNAG) spokeswoman Mary-Beth Gundrum said the evidence of adverse health effects from gas wells located near dwellings was overwhelming.
“Families in and around the Tara and Chinchilla areas have been bullied by the gas companies and had their health negatively impacted by fugitive gas,” Ms Gundrum said.
“These gas companies are 83 per cent-foreign owned and do not care about our economy or sending domestic gas prices through the roof.”
Atherton geologist Rob Ryan told the meeting that if proper gas drilling methods were used there was little chance of cross-contamination of water aquifers with gas or fracking chemicals.
He said he believed the Mt Mulligan gas field on its own would not contain sufficient reserves to sustain a local CSG industry.
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said Calcifer Industrial Minerals Pty Ltd had applied for a permit under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 to explore for gas at Mt Mulligan.
“That application is going through a rigorous State Government assessment process and no decisions have yet been made whether or not to grant the permit application,” Mr Cripps said.
If granted, coal seam gas exploration could soon begin at Mt Mulligan.
Dimbulah businesswoman Gaye Taylor, geologist Rob Ryan, Mareeba farmer Kane Booth, and Djungan elder Maxene Thompson attended a coal seam gas meeting held at Dimbulah on Sunday.