PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has called for tougher penalties for protestors who break the law and disrupt the lawful activities of mining companies.
The call comes as activist activities outside of the Carmichael coal mine ramped up.
Project developer Bravus Mining & Resources, previously known as Adani Australia, said on Tuesday that it was only a matter of time before someone was "seriously injured or killed" by the actions of the "professional activists".
“We’re an industry that puts the health and safety of our workforce first,” said Bravus parent company Adani Australia’s CEO and country head, Lucas Dow.
“But the Queensland government seems reluctant to do everything it can to protect mining industry workers from the danger and atmosphere of harassment and intimidation created by activists.
“Activists are camping on our mine site without consent and the Queensland government will not provide the direction to police in order to move them on. The other day this group of anti-coal activists thumbed their noses at state and Commonwealth legislation by landing an unauthorised chartered helicopter in close proximity to our operational open-cut mining pit so they could unload party supplies, including what appeared to be bottles of beer and wine.
“They use lock-on devices to halt trains and port activities and waste police time and come back to do it all over again as there are next to no penalties.
“Our people have told us they hold real concerns and worries about the near misses when their train could have run a protestor over or when they could have re-activated a conveyor belt and unknowingly killed an activist illegally locked onto it.
“All sides of politics and government are quick to claim they support the coal industry but when the rubber hits the road where are they? It seems that if you wear hi-vis you’re on your own, don’t look to government to watch out for you.”
Dow said Queensland needed to give the tens of thousands of people who make up the coal mining industry certainty they could go to work without fear of activist intimidation, harassment or sabotage.
“We shouldn’t be seeing anyone who has committed a second offence having no conviction recorded and there should be jail terms for hardcore repeat offenders,” he said.
“Tough laws are useless if they are not applied, and it’s time the government got serious about enforcing real consequences for activists who choose to deliberately break the law and put Queenslanders’ lives at risk.”
QRC CEO Ian Macfarlane echoed the comments, saying people had the right to go to work without facing constant harassment, or having their livelihood or personal safety threatened by people with a political agenda.
He said it was unacceptable that recent illegal activist behaviour had compromised the workplace health and safety of industry workers.
“Dangerous activity by activists has gone to a whole new level recently and must be stopped before someone gets seriously hurt,” Macfarlane said.
“It’s only a matter of time before protesters, like those targeting Bravus’ operations in Central Queensland, are injured or killed or cause harm to others as a result of their irresponsible behaviour.
“Mine sites can potentially be very dangerous places, which is why we have such strict workplace health and safety regulations in place.
“Every one of our employees and visitors to site are expected to follow these strict rules, and yet we have protesters coming onto mine sites who don’t think the law applies to them.”
Macfarlane said the average Queenslander would be shocked by the behaviour of activist protestors and what industry employees and police officers are being subjected to on a regular basis.
“This level of harassment, intimidation and disruption to business should not be tolerated on any work site or in any business or industry,” he said.
“The QRC is urging legal authorities to use the full force of the law to impose penalties on protesters who break the law, including sending them to jail as is being done in New South Wales, because their dangerous behaviour is placing the lives of law-abiding citizens at risk.”
Coal exports from the Carmichael project are set to commence soon, with the mine expected to produce 10-million tonnes of coal a year.