Digging in for mine fight

Granite Belt landholder Yvonne Rose has spent the year and a half fighting a mining company over access to her property. Picture: JEREMY COOK

By Jeremy Cook

When Granite Belt resident Yvonne Rose received a letter advising her of a five-year mining permit issued for the exploration of critical minerals on her property, she was brought to tears.

“My stress levels were through the roof, and my son actually found me crying,” Ms Rose said.

Ms Rose’s 400-acre Woodlands property, located near Mount Magnus, has been in her family for generations.

In 2015, she took over management of the property which acts as a popular site for a number of different native species.

The letter she received was sent from a Granite Belt-based mining company wanting to access her property within less than two weeks.

It was poorly worded, contained grammatical errors and a quick search online revealed the company had only been registered for around 12 months from the time it was sent in March 2022.

“Initially I think I wanted to bury my head in the sand to begin with,” Ms Rose said.

Exploration Permits for Minerals (EPMs) can be issued to resource companies by the Queensland government for activities such as prospecting and surveying, drilling, environmental studies, geophysical surveys, sampling and testing of soil as well as water and rock sampling.

The permits exist to locate what minerals and gases exist in a particular area of land, and to determine the economic viability of extracting and commercialising whatever resources are found.

Under Queensland’s land access laws, mining companies must give an entry notice before trying to enter a landholder’s property.

For more advanced mining activities, landholders are entitled to negotiate a compensation agreement with the permit holder.

It is understood, however, landholders cannot prevent the company from accessing their land.

Granite Belt Sustainable Action Network (GBSAN) spokeswoman Kellie Cusack said landholders have no rights when it comes to mining activities on their properties.

Ms Cusack encouraged affected landholders to make contact to assist with information on what types of activities permit holders can undertake.

“The best course of action is to understand exactly what to do next in terms of allowing access,” Ms Cusack said.

For Ms Rose, the past 18 months has been spent fighting the mining company over access to her property.

“In every part of the correspondence, it was [that] landowners should seek legal advice before they go into one of these agreements,” she said.

“I started to think about the cost of doing that and I immediately made an appointment with my solicitor.”

An environmental assessment, conducted in March 2023, found her Woodlands property “exhibits remarkable biodiversity”, and revealed several endangered species.

To date no exploration activities have commenced on Ms Rose’s property as a result, however the past 18 months have not failed to take its toll.

“All the plans, dreams and hopes that I had for the place which has been in my family since 1905,” she said.

“It just feels incongruous to have something like mining exploration on such a pristine, beautiful part of the world.”

A total of 19 permits have been issued for mining exploration activities across the Granite Belt region since 2010. A further 18 are currently under consideration by the state government.