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Protestors promise to hit Aurizon’s bottom line

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Environmental groups opposed to the development of coal mines in the Galilee Basin have vowed to target the hip pockets of the financial backers of projects, starting with rail firm Aurizon.

Civil society groups have long made it clear they are opposed to GVK's Alpha Coal project involving two coal mines in the Galilee Basin, a 495 km standard gauge railway line as well as the port facilities at Abbot Point.

Protester Ben Penning said the only way to stop the project is to hurt financial backers of the project ,including Aurizon, who are pushing for rail-port infrastructure, ABC reported.

"Once they make that formal there's a lot of money involved and it's going to be harder to pull them back, so we're going to focus on Aurizon and let them know that as an environment movement we're going to cost them lots of time and money through political action, so that has to come to their financial calculations," he said.

"We don't expect any government to stop what's going ahead, so we want to affect the economics of the situation."

In March, Aurizon and GVK announced a partnership that will see them build $6 billion worth of rail and port infrastructure for mining projects in Queensland.

Under the new deal the two companies will build a 500km rail line from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point, with Aurizon, formerly QR National, providing railway logistics and GVK providing financial backing.

The deal means Aurizon will take a 51 per cent share in Hancock Coal Infrastructure, which houses GVK Hancock's rail and port projects.

Many say the new network will help deliver access to the under-developed Galilee Basin, considered to be the new frontier in Queensland mining.

In July environmental groups sent Aurizon an open letter urging them to dump plans to buy GVK Hancock’s rail and port project, adding they will use any peaceful means necessary to stop the projects being built.

“The new rail and port proposals that Aurizon is considering buying equity in would be a disaster for the Great Barrier Reef and the climate” said Erland Howden, climate campaigner at Greenpeace.

“The new port will see massive dredging and many more ships passing through the Reef. And opening the Galilee Basin mines would see Australia making an even greater contribution to pushing global temperatures beyond safe levels”.

GVK coal managing director Paul Mulder has previously said his company is operating above the world’s best environmental benchmarks.

He said GVK spent $50 million for government-required environmental studies, using 250 scientists to ‘ensure the science, process and intended operations met those highest environmental standards’.

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