A mining company has admitted it could take years to fix the logistical “disaster” it created for a Queensland town, after a routine blast caused an earthquake-sized crack on a vital road.
Gibihi Road near Moura in central Queensland was a busy freight link for local farmers and graziers, and was used daily by mining workers and a school bus.
But the routine mine blast by Anglo American caused the 90-metre deep crack in November last year.
Ever since, the route has been out of action to everyone, except the company’s haul trucks.
Diversions are in place but that is adding about 30 kilometres to trips in and out of Moura, 180 kilometres south-west of Rockhampton.
For local Kristine Brown, it has meant at least an extra 90 minutes to drive children to school, running errands in town, and other activities.
“I used it eight times a day,” she said.
She has also lost access to a school bus, mail delivery and quick access to town in times of emergencies.
Damage to Gibihi Road, caused by a routine blast by mining company Anglo American. (Supplied: Anglo American)
After a fiery meeting a month ago, Anglo American set up a formal complaints centre in Moura for disgruntled locals.
‘They just walk over us’: farmers
Last night, the company held a second community meeting, where chief executive David Diamond fronted up to a 120-person crowd, many of whom were furious.
“This has been a disaster for the community. We accept that,” Mr Diamond said.
Mr Diamond said fixing the road was not feasible and would take five years, instead arguing for the construction of a new road that could be built in 15 months once it is approved.
He said it would be unsafe to allow the public to use the side road on Gibihi Road, which was still being used by the company’s haul trucks.
Outside the meeting, farmer Darren Hosking said the crack had exposed a greater division between the mine and local farmers.
“They just walk over us. They’ve got the money and the force behind them but they keep forgetting who puts the food on the plate,” he said.
“And without primary producers, everybody here at this meeting would bloody starve.”
Mr Hosking said the proposed road was a good solution, but that using the temporary diversion in the interim costed him $10,000 extra in freight costs to send tonnes of chickpeas off his farm.
Mr Diamond said Anglo American had already committed to paying for fixing the road and assessing compensation claims on a “case-by-case” basis.
Darren Hosking and Jo Hosking say their costs have gone up because they cannot use Gibihi Road. (ABC News: Emilia Terzon)
Council could intervene to allow road usage
Banana Shire Council Mayor Nev Ferrier said while Anglo American has ruled out opening up Gibihi’s side road, the local Council is still investigating using it as an option.
Gibihi Road is a council asset, and neither Mr Ferrier or Mr Diamond would say how they would handle the situation, if the council wanted a different route to the company.
But Cr Ferrier said it could not boot Anglo American off the Gibihi Rd, because it was granted use of it under its state mining lease.
The company would not give the ABC closer access to the crack or the haul route beyond the road closure, citing safety concerns.
“It’s a hell of a hole. You can’t go close enough to go down and have a look at the bottom,” Cr Ferrier said.