Approval for expansion of the New Acland coal mine will provide opportunities for up to several hundred new jobs across construction and operation.
The $896 million investment will expand the existing open-cut coal mine by up to 7.5 million tonnes of thermal coal per annum.
With approval for the expansion received from Queensland’s independent Co-ordinator General, the project is now under consideration by the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt for approval under the EPBC Act.
Once approved New Acland owners New Hope Group will seek state government approval for a mining lease under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and an Environmental Authority under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.
Queensland deputy premier Jeff Seeney said the project will require 250 workers during the peak of the construction phase, and provide business opportunities for nearby towns such as Oakey, Dalby and Pittsworth.
Once the expansion is complete the mine will require 435 workers to carry out operations, an increase of 130 workers on a staff of 305 (as of December 2013).
Seeney said that although the Newman Government had not supported New Acland Coal’s original 2007 expansion plan due to its effect on high quality agricultural land and proximity to local townships, the current plan was subject to 137 strict conditions to manage the project’s impact.
“Since 2012, the proponent has reduced the project’s footprint by around 60 per cent and has relinquished 1,401 hectares or 28 per cent of the mining lease area, including the town of Acland,” he said.
“The reduced scope of this project in response to local concerns is a good example of a resource company working hard to achieve community confidence.”
Planning requirements of the New Acland mine expansion include:
- Preserving the course of Lagoon Creek
- Moving the Jondaryan rail load-out facility eight kilometres from the town
- Moving mining activity 10 kilometres from Oakey
- No relocation of the heritage-listed New Acland colliery
- Reducing the impact on Strategic Cropping Land by around 2300 hectares
- Reducing throughput from up to 10 million tonnes a year to a maximum of 7.5 million tonnes a year
- reducing of the proposed mine life from 2042 to 2029.
Strict conditions have also been put in place to protect land and groundwater, including baseline studies and ongoing monitoring of water bores.
Other key conditions in the Coordinator-General’s report include:
- The new rail load-out facility, located 8km away from the town of Jondaryan, must transport all product from day one of operating the Stage 3 project – thereby replacing the existing Jondaryan rail load-out facility which is just 1km from the town.
- Stringent noise and dust limits that require best practice, adaptive real-time dust and noise monitoring and management systems which alarms to notify if limits are close to being met, allowing for an immediate change in mine activities.
- A new sealed road from Acland to Jondaryan.
- Establishment of a flora and fauna conservation zone along the section of Lagoon Creek in the mining lease area, with a particular focus on improving koala habitat
- Independent verification of the design and construction of the rail spur infrastructure to minimise any potential flooding impacts.