Extractive resource development in a changing climate: learning the lessons from extreme weather events in Queensland, Australia

Media type: 
Vigya Sharma
Shashi van de Graaff
Barton Loechel
Daniel Franks
The University of Queensland

This report highlights challenges to future industry and local communities in Central Queensland’s coal mining region based on climate-influenced drought and flooding experienced since 2000.


Australia is not only a location of extreme climate variability but is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to anthropogenic climatic changes. The dependence that national and regional economies have on mining-led export earnings combined with the resource sector’s potential to impact significantly on environments and communities during extreme weather events makes the minerals sector an important area of focus for climate adaptation research. This project examines extreme weather events in Queensland and the direct and indirect impacts of these events on the mining industry, governments and dependent communities. The project is funded by NCCARF’s Synthesis and Integrative Research Program.

This report presents findings from our research project that investigates the nature and scope of climatic extremes experienced since 2000 in Central Queensland’s coal mining region. It examines the direct and flow-on impacts of extreme events on the mining industry and other stakeholders, and the response mechanisms employed by these stakeholder groups to address key impacts. By doing so, the project’s overarching objective is to highlight both climate-influenced drought (water quantity) and flooding (water quality) challenges relevant to the future viability of the industry and local communities. Key outcomes from this research include: a better understanding of the range of existing barriers and challenges – both within and outside the mining industry – that currently prevent the resources sector from developing a coherent adaptation policy for future climatic events; improved knowledge on how lessons learnt from past experiences can inform future research directions to enhance the resilience and adaptive capacity of the resources sector to address current and future climatic perturbations; and directions for future research on climate adaptation in the resources sector based on lessons learnt from these experiences. 

Data for this project has been drawn from a variety of sources, including a systematic review of literature (academic sources, newspaper and other media articles, government and industry reports, and reports published from the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry); targeted interviews with representatives of state and local governments, industry, and peak regional bodies; and a series of workshops with a mix of representatives from relevant stakeholder groups active in the region. 

Please cite as: 
Sharma, V, van de Graaff, S, Loechel, B & Franks, DM 2013, Extractive resource development in a changing climate: Learning the lessons from extreme weather events in Queensland, Australia, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 110 pp.

View the Flood and drought resilience lessons for the mining industry Fact sheet.