COAL HUNT: Clive Palmer wants a permit to search for coal in the region
COAL HUNT: Clive Palmer wants a permit to search for coal in the region Sharyn O'Neill

Palmer joins in region's rush for coal

THE battle of the billionaires is heating up, with mining magnate Clive Palmer joining Gina Rinehart in the hunt for coal in the Bundaberg region.

In the latest entry into the search, Waratah Coal has applied for an exploration permit to look for coal in the area.

Waratah Coal is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mr Palmer's company Mineralogy.

The area he wants to explore for coal is described as 544sq km of land about 30km south-south-east of Bundaberg.

The land is covered by both the Bundaberg and Fraser Coast regional councils.

Mr Palmer could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Mr Palmer's move into the region comes after a company supported by Mrs Rinehart claimed to have struck coal in the Avondale region.

Waratah Coal is the company Mr Palmer is using to develop his coal interests in the Galilee Basin.

It also holds extensive exploration permits for coal and minerals in the rich mineral basins of Laura, Bowen, Styx's, Surat, Moreton, Maryborough, Nymbodia and Northern Territory.

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett welcomed Mr Palmer's search for coal in the Bundaberg region for the jobs and economic benefits it could bring.

But he also warned Mr Palmer's company would have to go through the same environmental process as anybody else.

"The region needs the economic boost as long as the environmental safeguards are in place," he said.

But not everybody was so welcoming.

Vicki Perrin, chairwoman of the group Coal Free Wide Bay Burnett and Beyond said she was not surprised by the move, but she was "pretty disappointed".

Ms Perrin said she was aware there were exploration permits awaiting approval on land in the region.

"Our objection is this is an agricultural region, and the idea of losing even more agricultural land bothers us," she said.

"We are losing a lot of productive agricultural land at a fast rate."

Ms Perrin said the group was not against mining as such, but it had to be done in an environmentally sensitive way.

"Bundaberg is a really beautiful place with a community that is proud to live here," she said.

"When you see the ruination of a place like Gladstone you wouldn't want to be like that."

Ms Perrin said she believed the community would pull together to stop the mining in the region.

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