In NSW, groundwater users must pay to take groundwater which is traded in a market. However, in Queensland there is generally no cost for the take of groundwater beyond , a nominal fee to obtain a licence.
The provision of access to a public resource like groundwater without payment can function as a hidden subsidy which transfers value from the public to private enterprises. This is particularly relevant for an industry such as mining which is dominated by a few large multi- national interests and which has far-reaching impacts on groundwater resources.
Mining often involves substantial interference with, or interception of, groundwater. This can be through accessing the resource in dewatering a pit, or obtaining groundwater for other necessary activities associated with mining operations, such as dust suppression.
This analysis seeks to assess the value of groundwater that is granted to coal mining companies in Queensland, to expose the hidden subsidy that it represents from the Queensland public to coal mining giants.