Alpha coal project court challenge begins in Queensland

Court proceedings to halt GVK Hancock’s major Alpha Coal Project have started  in Queensland’s Land Court, with environmentalists pushing for the mining approval the be revoked.

Six parties have taken the miner to court, objecting to the project’s effects on climate change, water and ecology.

Lead by the Coast and Country Association Queensland, backed by Queensland’s Environmental Defenders’ Office, the group also includes three families from the Alpha area, Daily Mercury reported.

The Alpha project is 79 per cent owned by Indian conglomerate GVK and 21 per cent owned by Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.

The project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, is scheduled to be up and running in 2016, with the $3.2 billion mine capable of shipping 32 million tonnes of coal per year.

1500 jobs will be created during the construction of the mine, while 800 people will be required once it’s operational.

The project was given Federal Government approval late last year.

Mackay’s Conservation Group said the mine will impact downstream water supplies.  

“It’s certainly going to damage water supplies for surrounding land owners,” the group’s co-convener Patricia Julien said.

Julien also questioned the amount of jobs the company expected to create.

“We fear that demand will drop off and the mines will be automated so there are very few jobs that will be produced once they construct the railway lines.

“There’s not much in it for Queensland.”

While Alpha landholder Peter Anderson said he wants a better agreement on underground water use by GVK Hancock, ABC reported.

Anderson claims the mine will be able to access two aquifers and wants a process in place to ensure water supply is not affected.

“We rely quite extensively on underground water for the properties at Alpha,” he said.

“In a dry time such as now – the property is drought-declared at present and in a few weeks’ time, we’ll be relying almost exclusively on underground water.”

Yesterday the court heard the Alpha project would release 859,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year and that taking into account the burning of its exported coal, emissions increase by 60 million tonnes.

However, Damian Clothier QC said Alpha’s 30 million tonnes of exported coal amounted to just 0.05% of global coal production.
The case is expected to last for three weeks.

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