Hitting back at greens groups, Queensland’s peak mining body is launching a media campaign promoting the importance of port capacity adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.
The campaign titled Working alongside the Great Barrier Reef claims Queensland’s economic future is tied to its global exports of minerals, energy, agricultural and manufactured products as well as tourism.
“Our ports, some of which operate adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are a gateway to domestic and international trade, connecting Australia to the world,” the Queensland Resources Council states.
The QRC said it recognises working alongside the Great Barrier Reef requires rigorous environmental assessments and meticulous care.
“As exports of commodities and imports of vital goods to and from Queensland grow, so must the capacity of ports and the number of ship movements through the GBR World Heritage Area,” it said.
The QRC claims at the upper end of official forecasts, ship calls could increase from a current 4600 vessels a year to around 6000 by 2020.
“Half of these ships would be carrying exports of coal and gas,” the QRC said.
“The other half include passenger ships, those carrying exports of sugar, beef, processed minerals and ships bringing in essential bulk imports such as oil to central and north Queensland communities.”
According to the QRC exports through the 11 Great Barrier Reef ports, including Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Abbot Point, were worth $40 billion in 2011-12, representing 78 per cent of Queensland’s total export volume.
“The ports are fundamental to Queensland’s global trade in coal, metals, gas, sugar and grain. They are also points of entry for imports including oil, general cargo and tourist shipping,” the QRC said.
The PR campaign comes as environment groups escalate their fight to stop the expansion of coal exports.
Taking to social media Greenpeace has coined the hashtag #reefatrisk to spread its message.
Greenpeace claims the development of the Galilee Basin will turn the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area “into a massive industrial estate”.
The environment group said port infrastructure projects will put the Queensland coastline at risk, claiming a rise in coal ship traffic will increase the chance of spills and groundings.