One of the largest and healthiest koala populations in south-east Queensland is under threat from mining and industry.
One of the largest and healthiest koala populations in south-east Queensland is under threat from mining and industry. Damian Dunlop

Koalas in front line

OPPONENTS of a coalmine near Ipswich have lodged an appeal against the decision to allow mining to resume there.

An anti-mine group unsuccessfully sought in the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by former State Mines Minister Stirling Hinchliffe to renew a lease on the abandoned 675ha Ebenezer coalmine near Amberley.

The plaintiffs in the case lodged an appeal against the decision to the Queensland Court of Appeal on Friday.

They have warned the state and federal governments the proposed mining activity poses a significant threat to critical koala habitats and an endangered plant species.

As well as concerns about resuming the Ebenezer mine, environmentalists fear another larger coal precinct could be opened up south-west of Ipswich.

Last week, the Queensland Times revealed coal exploration had started on a site adjacent to the Ebenezer mine.

Tourism executive Graham Turner, a leading opponent of the Ebenezer mine, said the Ipswich Koala Protection Society had advised one of the largest and healthiest koala populations in south-east Queensland was under threat from mining and industry.

"The Ebenezer/Mt Forbes area is now mapped as high-value bushland and a significant koala habitat while the same area is home to the critically endangered and protected Swamp Tea Tree forest," Mr Turner said.

"Last month the Federal Government listed koalas as vulnerable in Queensland, NSW and the ACT. We are calling on the government to stop mining companies from activity which interferes with koalas and their habitats."

Lawyers for the anti-mine group sought a judicial review of the decision by Mr Hinchliffe to renew present owner Zedemar Holdings' lease on the Ebenezer mine, but this was dismissed last month by Justice James Douglas.

Ipswich Koala Protection Society secretary Helen Darbellay said the Federal Government needed to stand by its commitment to protect koalas.

"Over the years, governments both state and federally have spent large sums of money on research trying to identify why koalas are disappearing at such an alarming rate. The answer is simple: loss of habitat," she said.



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