12 March 2024. Michael Guerin, AgForce CEO.

When Australia’s food security is under threat from ill-advised development, it’s not a time to sit back.

To give some perspective to the urgency of the situation - it’s not overstating to say that confidence in our food supply is at genuine risk because of the current proposal from Glencore (an international mining giant) to pump emissions from a Coal Fired Power Station into the Great Artesian Basin (GAB).

Too dramatic a statement I hear some of you say – sadly not so. In fact, Glencore’s own submission acknowledges it.    

Recent media reports back this up - with respected experts such as Ned Hamer gravely concerned that this project would acidify groundwater ( 

Yet here we are potentially only weeks away from a final decision on the back of a multiyear federal and state approvals process, that could allow Glencore to proceed with this abhorrent plan to pump more than 300,000 tonnes of emissions from a coal fired power station into Australia’s most significant underwater resource.

So, things like lead and arsenic may enter the water of the Great Artesian Basin, where it could be then taken up by animals and plants in our food growing systems, and consumed by us and our children in the food we buy.  That would mean many nasties potentially entering our food supply chain.  

Glencore claim if any ‘unforeseen’ consequences emerge, they’ll simply suck it back out.  Our back of the envelope calculation says that would involve over 6000 semi-trailers of industrial waste – and where would they take it?  The list of questions goes on - it’s clearly not a viable option. 

This could easily be solved. The Federal Minister for the Environment has the power to recall the proposal under MNES provisions of the EPBC Act based on the information AgForce has provided.

State and Federal Governments appear paralysed, and not willing to put an immediate stop this farce.  The emotional toll grows exponentially as they ‘fiddle while Rome burns’. 

There is clearly something that I and the agriculture industry are missing.  Why else would such a clear-cut case of environmental negligence not result in an immediate call back at the appropriate level?  There are other similar projects awaiting approval close behind Glencore’s proposal.  Our food security and the Great Artesian Basin are clearly at risk - period.   

That is why AgForce will take this matter to the Federal Court within days – we have no choice. Australia’s food security is at risk, and the GAB is too precious to leave to chance.