The Queensland Land Court (QLC) has recommended the rejection of New Hope Group's $900m expansion of the open-cut New Acland mine on the Darling Downs near Toowoomba, Australia.
The court has recommended that the Mining Leases and Environmental Authority amendment for Stage 3 not be granted, citing potential environmental violations such as groundwater depletion, air-quality issues, soil erosion, as well as other factors affecting the local community.
However, the final decision rests with the Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection chief executive.
In a response, the company noted that it is currently evaluating options available to it in order to secure approval of the project.
In addition to these approvals, the company needs an Associated Water Licence to carry out the planned expansion programme.
The New Acland mine currently employs 782 employees and contractors, with more than 1,000 employees and contractors expected to work during the peak construction phase of Stage 3.
Non-government community legal centre EDO Queensland CEO and solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg said: “After an historic battle by local farmers and landholders against this mining giant the independent Land Court has recommended refusal of the Stage 3 New Acland coal mine expansion.”
As of March 2012, the mine had inferred, indicated, and measured resources of 8mt, 438mt, and 411mt respectively. While it had probable and proved coal resources of 185mt and 309mt respectively.
New Hope aims to expand its New Acland Coal mine and operate for an additional 12 years up to 2029.
Image: A diesel and natural gas hybrid truck at the New Acland Mine in Australia. Photo: courtesy of New Hope Group.