Abbot Point (near Bowen)
Abbot Point is an isolated headland 25 kms north of Bowen, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. A 50 million tonne coal terminal known as T1 was built there in the 1980s to export coal from the Bowen Basin, and now there is a major push to expand the port to allow export of coal from new mega-mines in the the Galilee Basin 400kms inland.
The Queensland and Australian governments have approved the construction of two new coal terminals: T-Zero by Indian company Adani Enterprises and T3 by GVK Hancock – a joint venture between Indian resources company, GVK and Gina Reinhart’s Hancock Coal.
Adani is pushing ahead with Terminal Zero, which will export up to 70 mega tonnes of thermal coal per year from the company’s proposed Carmichael mega-mine and other mines in the Galilee Basin. T-Zero will be wedged between the Caley Valley wetlands and a turtle-nesting beach. It will require over 1 million cubic metres of dredging, with the spoil to be dumped in ponds beside the delicate wetlands. Enormous coal stockpiles will be located less than 50m from important aboriginal heritage sites, and coal dust will drift onto the wetlands and marine waters.
The GVK-Hancock Terminal 3 proposal will be of a similar size, but no dates have been set for it to proceed.
There are currently around 174 ship visits to Abbot Pt each year. With the construction of T-Zero and T3, this is expected to rise to between 600 and 700 by 2020 and reach 1200 per year when the terminals reach full capacity.
Abbot Point’s natural values
One of the most significant features of Abbot Point is the Caley Valley Wetland which is listed as a Wetland of National Significance. This large seasonal wetland fills during the summer wet season and much of it dries out during winter. It is an important habitat for almost half the total number of migratory shorebird species found in Australia, including the endangered Painted Snipe. Caley Valley Wetland is also the most northern breeding area for the Black Swan.
Many marine animals known to live in the waters around Abbot Pt including:
- Green turtles
- Flatback turtles
- Hawksbill turtles
- Loggerhead turtles
- Olive Ridley Turtles
- Humpback Whales
- Snubfin Dolphins
Every spring, dozens of green and flatback turtles nest on the beaches around Abbot Point, and the baby turtles hatch early the following year. Floodlights from the terminals could disrupt turtle breeding, and the animals will be at increased risk of vessel strike in the waters around the point.
Seagrass meadows are essential food sources and habitat for many threatened species in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area, including Green turtles, Hawksbill turtles and dugongs. The seagrass beds around Abbot Pt lie within a region identified as ‘High Priority’ Green turtle foraging habitat within the Great Barrier Reef. Dredging activities and construction will result in the removal of up to 100ha of potential seagrass habitat around Abbot Pt and a much larger area will suffer siltation from the dredging.
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