300 coal jobs hang on the approval of Acland mine expansion: New Hope

305 Queensland coal jobs hang in the balance as approval for the expansion of New Hope’s New Acland coal mine approaches decision day.

“We've got 305 employees here, direct employees, who go home to their families every night," New Hope Coal general manager of mining Jim Randell said.

"It’s very important to them that we have some continuation after 2017 because without that we will have 305 people out of work as well as a number of contractors out of work."

Plans to expand the operation north of Oakey will extend the life of the mine past 2017 to 2029 and is expected to create over 100 new jobs.

The New Acland Revised Stage 3 Proposal is before Queensland's Coordinator General, with a decision on the expansion expected next March.

Approval would mean the miner could increase production from 4.8 million tonnes a year to 7.5 million tonnes a year.

While the company says the plan will inject $530 million in the south-east Queensland economy per year, and $8 billion over the life of the mine.

It would also mean the controversial coal loading facility will be moved 8kms from Jondaryan.

Tensions surrounding the effects of mining have been long fought in the town with residents concerned over the impacts mining activity has on air and water quality.

Last year, two protestors were arrested after they entered the site at Jondaryan in protest of the facility’s close proximity to the town.

"We'll keep on fighting this issue (at Jondaryan) because we feel the coal dump is inappropriately located," a spokeswoman for the protest group said at the time.

Doris Lander, a Jondaryan resident for over 30 years said coal dust from the facility got on ‘everything,’ while residents have written to us here at Australian Mining saying they are forced to keep windows and doors shut due to the dust from the coal pile.

Earlier this year Mayor Paul Antonio said it was “obvious that there is a dust issue”, calling on an independent review of the cause and effects of coal dust.

While the Oakey Coal Action Alliance has campaigned for two years for restrictions to be placed on New Hope Coal's coal stockpile.

Randell said New Hope was committed to addressing concerns raised by the community, pointing to the rehabilitation efforts at the mine as an example.

"We move the material from in front of the mine around immediately behind the mine so at any point in time, once the mine has gone through and extracted the coal, less than 100m behind the mine we are starting to lay down the land form with top soil on top of that.

"We will then put grasses in place for pasture and within a matter of maybe two or three years we will have cattle on that pasture grazing here, again, making the land productive, maybe even more productive than it was before we mined."

He said the future of the mine was causing a sense of anticipation among the workforce.

"Obviously in times when the industry is in a down phase as it is now, security of employment is a key issue, so this is just another thing that makes people a little more nervous.

"But, everybody gets stuck in and works towards convincing our community that this is a good thing."

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