The upward pressure on the exchange rate would cause a “considerable decline” in the state’s manufacturing industry and cause wage hikes across it and the agricultural sector, which would exacerbate the “two-speed economy”, according to a report by the AEC Group.
“It is anticipated the manufacturing sector will be one of the hardest hit sectors in terms of the reallocation and draw of labour to the project, given the relatively similar skills sets employed,'' the report said.
''Further, the export of $4.6 billion per annum of coal will place upward pressure on Australia's exchange rate and may impact on the global competitiveness of manufacturing goods produced in Australia.
''Overall manufacturing output is estimated to decline in Queensland relative to what would be achieved if the project does not proceed.''
There would also be significant social dislocation as a result of the project, which would occupy 55,000 hectares of grazing land and force up rents in central Queensland beyond the means of non-mining residents.
“The disparity in salaries could contribute to a wealth divide between mining families and other residents,” it said.
“In combination with an expected increase in rental process and property values in [towns] Alpha and Jericho and potentially regional hubs, such as Barcaldine, Emerald and Mackay, housing affordability could become an issue, in particular for those that are not employed by the project or in other high-earning occupations.”
The mine and associated infrastructure – which is being partially bankrolled by Chinese money – will contribute an extra $710 million a year to federal government revenue and $365 million to the Queensland government before mining taxes are levied.
The China First project is comprised of six coal mines, including four 9Mt per annum underground longwall mines and two 10Mtpa open cut pits, as well as two coal preparation plants.
It is located 30km north of Alpha.
But two of the underground mines and one of the open cut mines will be situated in Queensland’s Bimblebox nature refuge, covering approximately 4926ha of the conservation land, which is protected under the Nature Conservation Regulation Act 1994.
Queensland’s Department of Environment and Resource Management defines a nature refuge as a “voluntarily legally binding agreement between the state government and a landholder to preserve land with significant conservation values”