This bioregional assessment helps us understand how coal seam gas and coal mining development could affect water resources and water-dependent assets in the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion, which is part of the Northern Inland Catchments bioregion. It identifies where potential impacts could occur, as well as the areas that are unlikely to be affected.
About the subregion
The Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion is mainly within the Queensland part of the Murray–Darling Basin, with a small area in New South Wales. It includes the headwaters of the Condamine River and the Maranoa River as well as the floodplains of the Upper Darling Plains. The main cities and towns are Toowoomba, Warwick, Dalby, Chinchilla, Roma, St George and Goondiwindi.
Most of the land is used for agriculture. Groundwater use varies across the subregion, but is commonly extracted for stock and domestic purposes, as well as for town water supply, agriculture and coal seam gas production.
Wetlands in the subregion include seasonal, semi-permanent and permanent wetlands and lagoons. Some of these wetlands are nationally significant. The Culgoa River Floodplains and the Narran Lakes system are downstream of the subregion. The northern part of the Narran Lakes system is an internationally recognised and protected wetland. Two significant cultural sites are also downstream of the subregion and could be impacted by activities in the subregion. The subregion is home to a number of water-dependent ecological communities, animals and plants which are listed as threatened under Queensland and Commonwealth legislation.
Coal mining and coal seam gas operations
The subregion is underlain by rocks of different ages that belong to three geological basins: the Surat Basin, the Bowen Basin and the Clarence-Moreton Basin. The Walloon Coal Measures occur in both the Surat and Clarence-Moreton basins and are the main coal seams developed for coal and coal seam gas in this subregion. Although there has been coal seam gas exploration in the Bowen Basin within this subregion, the coals here have poor potential for coal seam gas recovery.
There are four open-cut mines in operation and a number of active coal mine proposals (including new mines and mine expansions). Most resource development in the subregion is from coal seam gas operations. There are several established coal seam gas operations and coal seam gas projects under construction, and further exploration is underway.
About the bioregional assessment
This bioregional assessment is being undertaken in collaboration with the Queensland Government. It draws on groundwater modelling done by the Queensland Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment to inform our analysis of cumulative impacts on water resources as a result of coal resource development. An outcome synthesis will be produced for the Maranoa-Balonne-Condamine subregion.
- Area: 144,890 square kilometres
- Population: over 150,000
- Climate: varies from hot and dry (west) to temperate to sub-tropical (east)
- Annual rainfall: ranges from 420 millimetres (west) to 800 millimetres (north-east)
- Lake Eyre Basin bioregion
- Northern Inland Catchments bioregion
- Clarence-Moreton bioregion
- Northern Sydney Basin bioregion
- Sydney Basin bioregion
- Gippsland Basin bioregion