Great Artesian Basin remains at risk as AgForce prepares for Federal Court Action

AgForce applauds the State Government’s leadership and courage today in knocking back Glencore/CTSCo’s application to pump industrial waste into the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) in Queensland.

CEO of AgForce Michael Guerin said “The decision has been praised by industry and communities across four states and territories of Australia, as it puts to rest the immediate risk from this specific proposal.

This project was clearly a trial for future upscaling in this aquifer in the GAB, which Glencore believed had a storage capacity of up to 730 billion litres of industrial waste”.

The GAB is one of the largest underground freshwater resources in the world, as well as Australia’s largest groundwater basin. As such it’s the only reliable water source available for much of the outback’s arid inland areas.

“So, while we celebrate this State Government decision, our thoughts now immediately go to how to best protect the GAB into the future from such environmental threats.

Protecting it properly can only be achieved through more robust Federal Policy, with the current review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) a critical component of that”.

Another critical aspect for AgForce is for the Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to now use her power to recall the Glencore application for re-assessment. The previous Federal Government deemed this proposal as not captured by the ‘Matters of National Environmental Significance’ or MNES provisions of the EPBC Act – setting a dangerous precedent. But the Minister has the power to review that.

Otherwise, the precedent set under the current provisions of the Act will potentially allow other applications through or give space for a re-application by Glencore ahead of the promised reform of the Act itself.

Michael added that “Should the Federal Minister for the Environment call the application back in to be reassessed, we would gladly acknowledge her leadership in protecting one of the natural wonders of the world. Otherwise, we remain on track for the Federal Court on August 1 to seek a judicial review of that February 9, 2022, decision.

In our view, that judicial review is critical to the future of the Great Artesian Basin and all that rely on it”.

/Public Release. View in full here.