Call for bids for Student Research Project Funding

A call for bid$ to fund student research projects

A consortium of groups and organisations have grave concerns over the environmental impact of the proposed Colton Coal Mine on the Ramsar listed Great Sandy Strait and the Fraser Island World Heritage area that includes part of the Great Sandy Strait.  Research Projects are sought that will assess the potential environmental impact of the waste water discharged from the mine and flood waters flowing from the mine site into the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar site

The MRCCC, Fraser Island Defenders Organisation and the Greater Mary Association have established a $25,000 fund student projects to test their hypothesis of serious and sustained damage to the ecology of the Great Sandy Strait resulting from the release of acidic water polluted with abnormal concentrations of heavy metals into the Mary River and also the impacts from containment dams at the mine site in the Susan River Catchment breaching or overtopping.

The research projects that the consortium is interested in funding require a basic interest and scientific background that will address the following questions, which may be broken down into a series of smaller projects:

Question 1

  1. What is the pH of the water likely to be released at the rate of 200 litres per second in the Mary River estuary 8kms from the Ramsar boundary?
  2. What will be the effect of river flow and tidal movements on this discharge both upstream and downstream of this discharge point?
  3. How will the cessation of flow across the tidal barrage affect the dispersal of the discharge water?

Question 2

  1. What will be the effect of lower pH at various levels on the biota of the lower Mary River and the Great Sandy Strait?
  2. How far are the heavy metals in the water discharged from the Colton Mine likely to be dispersed?
  3. How long are the heavy metals likely to persist in abnormal concentrations?
  4. What impacts can be expected on the fauna and flora of the affected area in the short, medium and long term?
  5. Will heavy metals such as cadmium seriously impact on the food chain and if so for how long and how?

Question 3

What data already exists relating to water quality and stream flows in the lower Mary River and Great Sandy Strait and what is the known impact of heavy metals to be discharged from Colton Mine on the ecosystem and human health.

Other Questions:

Research into other questions that address the environmental impact of the waste water discharge from the Colton Mine on Great Sandy Strait will be considered.


Students individually or as teams are invited to submit bids for funding to support research which will address any of the above questions.

The Research Oversight Committee will consider bids on what they deem give the best bang for their buck.

The criteria includes :

  1. Timing: Projects need to be completed no later than 1st June 2019
  2. Capability: The experience of individuals and collaborators to complete the projects submitted
  3. Availability of funds: Projects can only be funded if resources are available. Early applications are advised.
  4. Proximity: Preference will be given to applicants close to the impact area

Proposals should be submitted by email to

There is no closing date so as long as funds are available applications will be considered.

It is hoped to begin the allocation of funding in March 2018

Click here for the MRCCC’s overview of the Colton Coal Mine proposal.

For further details contact or

Online References to the Colton Coalmine can be found at