Tess Newport, a 22-year-old student from Melbourne is locked to a coal handling facility.
Tess Newport, a 22-year-old student from Melbourne is locked to a coal handling facility. Contributed

Adani protesters could have died if workers didn't spot them

SOUTHERN protesters have shut down activity on a key North Queensland rail line and port as part of their latest assault against mining operations.

Activist group Frontline Action on Coal announced yesterday morning its members had brought Adani's Abbot Point Coal terminal to a halt.

Five protesters snuck into the facility and locked themselves to coal loading equipment about 10.30pm overnight. It's believed the protesters crawled through mangroves to avoid security.

They included 46-year-old Melbourne filmmaker Juliet Lamont, 74-year-old ex-serviceman from Cairns Jeffrey Cantor and 27-year-old student from Sydney, Nic Avery.

Abbot Point Port Operations CEO Dwayne Freeman described locking onto one of the coal conveyors as a foolish decision.

"These people, who have no experience, knowledge or understanding of the operations involved with a heavy industrial site like ours are extremely fortunate to not have been seriously injured or killed," he said.

"Such dire consequences were only avoided due to the diligence of our operational staff, who were inspecting the plant and became aware that the protesters had locked on to a live and operational automated conveyor system."

The protesters were eventually arrested for illegally entering the port.

Natalie Berry, a 20-year-old student from Sydney, prevented any coal trains from accessing Adani's coal port by being suspended off a tree by a line attached to the railway since 5.30am yesterday.

This has halted Aurizon from moving coal along that line. "There is no reality where new coal is sustainable," Ms Berry said.

"We cannot let companies like Adani and Aurizon open the floodgates for coal mining in the Galilee Basin - causing irreversible damage to the climate."

It takes about 2km for a coal train to come to a stop.

Police resources have also been tied up in the Bowen region, drawing officers away from dealing with emergency situations.

Former Bowen Mayor and current Whitsunday councillor Mike Brunker denounced the protesters and said the Queensland Government needed a new strategy to stop the disruption.

"There are 180 blokes at the Oaky North picket line and if they step on to the road to stop people coming to work they face millions (of dollars) in fines," he said.

"These people (anti-Adani activist) walk out and high five each other and cop a $50 fine."

"Where is the justice when a 'greeny' from Byron Bay can come up and stop operations for nine hours."