The Barcaldine Regional Council has approved development applications at Alpha that, if proceeded with, could see 1000 extra people in the community.
Barcaldine mayor, Rob Chandler, said it was now a case of “watch this space” following the approval of material change of use requests for land on the western side of the central Queensland town.
The details were listed in the minutes of the December 2018 council meeting, showing approval had been granted for both an integrated accommodation village, and for a 120-room motel, conference facility and tavern, to be built at the corner of the Capricorn Highway and Villafield Road.
The application was made by MRCH P/L based in Toowoomba, which, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, lists Warren Dale Preston and Joseph Doyle Wagner as co-directors.
Mr Wagner is one of the largest shareholders in Wagners Holding Company, one of Queensland's largest construction materials and services providers, while Mr Preston is part of the executive team at Resource Connect, a company with over 40 years in facilitating funding, construction and ownership of accommodation villages.
Cr Chandler said plans for the mining support facility had been on the drawing board four or five years ago and had resurfaced last year.
“It went through the State Planning Act and all the agencies and a report came to us from our planners last December, recommending that we approve it with conditions,” he said.
“It’s interesting that there’s movement at the station.
“We’ve not heard anything from the state government itself (regarding mine development), the Coordinator-General or any of the mining companies, and we’d expect that if the Coordinator-General was planning on approving anything, he’d let us know.
“I expect the rationale behind this is that if a mine hits the button, this company will have its approval to start construction.”
According to Cr Chandler, the first stage of the development would be the motel/conference facility/hotel, followed by what’s described in the minutes as an integrated accommodation village consisting of non-resident worker accommodation and/or visitor accommodation, and a caretaker’s residence. The whole project combined would have a potential to house 1000 people.
The company has already drilled a bore for water on the site and plans to have on-site sewerage and its own back-up power, Cr Chandler said.
He described the applications as a two-pronged approach, both to accommodate workers during any mine construction phase, and as a potential hub to house FIFO workers once mining started.
The staged development includes 71 units in its first accommodation phase, with further stages providing for another 71 units of various configurations, followed by 69, and another 69 to round it out.
Cr Chandler said his council wanted to see sustainable development that was integrated as part of the town of Alpha.
“One side of the fence don’t want a bar of coal mines and the other side is screaming out for development,” he said.
“As a council, we want to keep a balance and that’s why we want to be consulted as development takes place.
“You can’t just knock back economic development but what we have to do is make sure this conforms with the conditions we’ve placed on it, and follow up, and everybody wins.
“We want to make sure the mistakes of other mining towns are never made again.”
– Additional reporting by Steven Trask