A Central Queensland community that lost access to a vital road after a routine mine blast has been told the road is unfixable and the only option is a new road on a new route.
Mining company Anglo American caused cracks up to 90 metres deep in Gibihi Road in November, closing it to the Moura community south-west of Rockhampton.
Both the Banana Shire Council and the community hoped a parallel road could be built, but a feasibility study by engineering company GHD found this was not an option.
Residents were told Anglo American will build a completely new road, which will take at least 15 months to build.
Gibihi Road resident Kristine Brown, who lost access to essential services, was counting on a parallel road that would bring her life back to normal.
“It was always the obvious alternative,” she said.
It has put a question mark over how much longer Ms Brown and her family will be inconvenienced.
The detour has added up to 45 kilometres to a trip that used to be 10km.
“It’s the extra time, it’s the wear and tear on vehicles, it’s the extra costings, it’s even family life,” she said.
“The children after school, instead of being home within a few minutes like we used to be, they’re now in for a 30-minute car trip.”
She said frustration throughout the town had intensified.
“It’s maybe a little bit worse because it has gone on so long now,” Ms Brown said.
“We’ve been given an alternative, maybe an answer, but no real answer has been given as to what is going to happen.”
After two community meetings, Anglo American proposed a new road with two possible routes within its leased land.
‘Just the way it is’ says Mayor
Banana Shire Council Mayor Nev Ferrier said some in the community would not accept this solution, but it could not go further with the road parallel to Gibihi Road.
“Council’s done all we can,” he said.
“We were all hanging out, hoping we could get through there with a lower speed limit but it’s just the way it is and we’ve got to move forward now and the quicker we move forward the better for everybody.”
The proposal will see the new route go through Three Chain Roads with an option for two different exit points.
One proposal will see the exit on the Dawson Highway and the other will see the exit near the Moura-Theodore Road.
A large section of Gibihi Road, Moura, was damaged when mining company Anglo American set off a blast. (Supplied: Anglo American)
The proposed road would be 6–7km longer than the Gibihi Road route, and council’s preference was for the road to exit on the Moura-Theodore Road, Cr Ferrier said.
The Dawson Highway alternative would mean involvement with the Department of Transport and Main Roads and more planning time.
“We want to do it as quick as we can now,” Cr Ferrier said.
“We just have to sit down next week and hopefully [Anglo] will know which way they want to go, the costs that are involved, which way’s the best way.”
Cr Ferrier said Anglo American would be paying for all the costs associated with planning, designing and building of the road.
A spokesperson from Anglo American would not comment further on the road except to refer to its community updates.
There are community concerns the road will take at least two years to build because of planning, design, approvals and available workforce.
“If the preferred option is decided upon and pending landholder consultations and final approvals, a fast-tracked design and construction is estimated to take 15 months,” the Anglo American spokesperson said.
In its community update, Anglo American stated it would be in contact within the next two weeks to discuss next steps with individuals.
Anglo American has not received any State Government penalties at this time.
A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy said because Gibihi Road was located within Anglo American’s mining lease, in accordance with the legislation, it had surface area rights and, subsequently, no penalties or compensation was applicable.
The department was continuing to work with the Banana Shire Council and Anglo American to resolve the matter of safe access between the Moura-Theodore Road and the Leichhardt Highway, the spokesperson said in a statement.
“Alternative routes are currently in place for the public — via the Leichhardt Highway or Kianga Road for light vehicles,” the statement said.
“The Department’s understanding is Anglo American is proactively working with the local community to address impacts and appropriate mitigation measures.”