Queensland’s huge untapped Galilee coal basin was touted as a jobs and revenue bonanza by its supporters, with the potential to liberate hundreds of millions of tonnes of harmful greenhouse gases.
The Galilee’s potential as a “carbon bomb” was wrapped up in a dozen or more coalmining projects and estimates of billions of dollars of investment.
So far, just one project has made it through the starting gate – Adani’s controversial Carmichael mine, which sent its first coal to port late last year. The mine was supposed to be the first of many.
Yet there is little sign of more coal to come, with many projects shelved, lapsed or discontinued, and uncertain futures for those that remain.
“There was genuine hope, and house and land prices skyrocketed,” says Sean Dillon, the mayor of Barcaldine regional council, which covers several small towns including Alpha, Barcaldine, Aramac and Jericho in the basin.
Dillon says communities have become jaded by the promises of jobs and income.
“Everything was on the cusp and then it just got mothballed. It’s left a few communities scratching their heads,” he says.