Straddie miner welcomes Katter plan

STRADDIE mining giant Sibelco has welcomed the Katter Party's move to allow mining leases to run on the island until 2024.

Sibelco staff get off the ferry at Cleveland.

Sibelco staff get off the ferry at Cleveland.

On Tuesday, the party tabled a private members bill offering a piecemeal solution to the Labor Party's 2019 deadline while effectively clawing back the Newman government's 2035 timeframe.

Sibelco Australia chief executive Tom Cutbush said the legislation recognised the island's need for more than four years to build industry other than mining. 

Mr Cutbush's statement did not mention any plans for the mining company to leave the island earlier than 2019.

"If a compromise date like 2024 can be agreed, it will provide certainty for employees, local businesses and the broader NSI community, and allow for Sibelco to provide additional economic support for transition," he said.

“Whilst the end date put forward by Katter’s Australian Party is short of our preferred 2027 compromise date, we welcome the opportunity to work with Shane Knuth and the whole of the NSI community on a suitable transition plan."

In August, Sibelco closed its Yarraman mine after three years of planning with about 30 jobs lost.

But the company said sand mining was still the single largest employing sector on the island, supporting, directly and indirectly, between 500 and 750 residents of the island's 2000-plus  population.

It is likely Environment Minister Steven Miles will introduce the government's legislation to stop further lease extensions after 2019 at the last sitting for the year, which starts on December 1.

However, to get that through the House, the government would require support from both Speaker Peter Wellington and Cook independent MP Billy Gordon.

Deputy premier Jackie Trad told mining staff last week that the 2019 deadline was set in stone.,

Her comments were backed up by QYAC chief executive Cameron Costello, who said no amending legislation would be able to proceed without consultation with the island's native title holders.

Mr Costello also said if the 2019 deadline were to be extended, QYAC's High Court challenge against the state government would resume.

A group of concerned residents on the island started a Facebook page called Keep Mining on Straddie.

They called for a definitive ballot to determine what residents really wanted and when they wanted mining to end.

“There is a misconception in parliament that the majority of island residents are in favour of the Labor government’s 2019 cut off date,” the page said.

“If members of parliament continue speaking only to minority groups and not to residents in total then the truth will never be made public.”

Other concerns raised included claims by Sealink/Stradbroke Ferries chief executive David Thomson who said 26 per cent of his barge revenue would go when mining left the island.

Residents have also called for a guarantee from the ferry and barge company that fares and frequency of barges will not rise to recoup that lost revenue.