20 Sustainable management of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers 197 water resource development and mining. There is considerable potential for exploration and development of the Lake Eyre Basin’s natural resources. Mineral tenements cover ~42.8% of the Queensland part of the Basin, including considerable focus on development of the eastern part for coal, particularly the Galilee Basin (see Chapter 19). The Lake Eyre Basin also has the most significant onshore petroleum resources in Australia, with 76% of the Queensland part of the Basin covered by petroleum tenements (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines 2012). There are already existing commercial oil and conventional gas production tenements in the Eromanga part of the Basin. The Cooper geological basin is also the most productive and commercially viable shale gas region in Australia. The Georgina, Cooper and Galilee geological basins have potential for ‘tight gas’ resources. This natural gas is produced from rock strata with low permeability, requiring hydraulic fracturing to produce gas at economic rates. Coal seam gas exploration is already underway in the northern part of the Cooper Creek catchment. There are also uranium deposits in the northern section of the Georgina–Diamantina Basin. Many of these developments require water and their activities can interfere with surface and groundwater hydrology and dependent aquatic ecosystems. Much of what is decided in Queensland on water policy and management ultimately determines the future of the Lake Eyre Basin river systems. I overview the legislative and Fig. 20.2. The floodplains of the Georgina and Diamantina Rivers are extensive, reliant on river flows from many different rivers: the Burke River, Hamilton River, Eyre Creek, King Creek, Mulligan River, Western River, Mayne River and Farrars Creek (photo, R. T. Kingsford). They can be particularly affected by upstream diversions for irrigation development, as well as petroleum and gas and mining exploration and development.
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