700 to march against bill that could delay Acland mine operations

More than 700 community members from Queensland’s Darling Downs will march on Parliament House today against a new bill that could further delay mining approvals.

The State Parliament is set to debate new underground water management laws that, if passed, could create lengthy approvals for projects including New Hope Group’s New Acland coal mine near Oakey.

The community also argues that it could impact jobs in the region.

New Hope Group Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Boyd, said the bill could affect New Acland mine’s ability to continue full scale operations into 2017.

“Time is quickly running out for New Acland and the over 700 plus employees and contractors who rely on the mine for their livelihood,” Boyd said.

“If the Environmental Protection (Underground Water Management) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (EPOLA) is passed as drafted it could add at least a further 12 months to our approval process.

“The initial application for New Acland Stage three was made in 2007 and it has since been through no less than four state Governments. Now the government wants us to re-visit the entire process without any prior notice.”

Boyd added that the proposed legislation was introduced to Parliament on September 13 without consultation and rushed through the committee process. He also called on the minister to further examine the impact of the legislation on mining license holders and the wider community.

There has been opposition to the stage three expansion of the Acland site, with opponents arguing it will use 1400ha of cropping land, worsen the air quality, and cause groundwater to drop by nearly 50m in some areas, according to the ABC.

“This is a fight for our fertile farmland as 90 per cent of the Darling Downs is under coal lease,” Paul King, Oakey Coal Action Alliance secretary, said.