Miners strike a raw nerve

COALDALE landholders are banding together to present a united front after coal seam gas explorer Metgasco earmarked the area as a potential drilling site.

Cattle farmer Brian Winter said the environmental impacts of coal seam gas mining and the effect on land prices were his greatest concerns.

“Land prices are a moral and ethical issue. There are potential benefits for the community, but I am certain that this shouldn’t come at the expense of individual people,” the Coaldale resident said.

“Landholders will have to be adequately compensated. I’ll be prepared to blockade my place if I have to.”

After seeing Metgasco performing seismic testing around the Coaldale area, Mr Winter contacted the company.

“It is important to be involved right at the beginning of the process. We want to be on the front foot,” Mr Winter said.

“They will complete their analysis by June, then some time after June until February next year, to comply with their exploration licence, they may put an exploration well down in the area.

“No one is very keen on gas mining,” he said of the tight-knit Coaldale community.

“We’ve been going to meetings and have joined an action group – Shut the Gate – to help keep ourselves up to speed on the issue.”

Mr Winter said he was planning a public meeting for sometime in the next few weeks.

“The unknown brings fear,” he said.

Metgasco chief financial officer Glenda McLoughlin said coal seam gas mining had become politicised, particularly as the Greens were trying to make it a State election issue.

She also quashed suggestions there had been any reports by the Queensland Valuer-General that land prices had fallen because of coal seam gas mining.

Metgasco has been operating in Casino for six years and property prices had not fallen, she said.

“If anything they have gone up, our input into the community has been positive,” she said.

“We have always been open and transparent and we are here to make a positive influence, and to make opportunities for people,” she said.

“It concerns me that a fear campaign is emerging. We’ll keep playing a straight bat and hopefully people will take us at our word.”

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