Dalby Courthouse will hold a series of hearings today for objectors to the New Acland coal mine expansion near Oakey in Queensland.
Across six separate hearings the court will hear 27 objectors to the mining lease applications and 35 objectors to the draft environmental authority.
Reassessment of the approvals was announced in June this year, which threw the future of the $896 million project into question.
Media controversy around the mine expansion has been driven by shock jock radio broadcaster Alan Jones, who claimed that donations to the Queensland Liberal party had influenced their withdrawal of opposition to the mine.
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.
With formal objection from the Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA), the group will appear tomorrow to request a directions timetable that will allow relevant issues to be considered by the Land Court in a final hearing next year.
OCAA spokesperson and local farmer Frank Ashman said the number of formal objectors demonstrated the level of opposition in the local community.
“The Acland Stage 3 coal expansion represents a serious threat to our water resources, our farm businesses and the health of our local families,” he said.
“We are very glad to have the opportunity to get our legal challenge underway and to finally be able to start the long process of presenting solid evidence as to why this mine should not go ahead.
“Our case will be that the expansion should not proceed because of the irreversible impacts it will have on important farming land, groundwater resources and the wellbeing of local communities.
“We will also argue that the costs of this expansion to Qld far outweigh any benefits, especially given that the mine proponent is operating under an old title system which means it pays a large proportion of royalties to itself.”
The court will also hear from Michael Kane of Clean Air Queensland, who will raise the issue of impacts on the health of Brisbane residents due to uncovered coal trains travelling through the suburbs to port.
“Currently, 9 million tonnes of coal is transported through Brisbane suburbs each year with industry plans to increase this figure to 20 million tonnes.
“The World Health Organisation has classified airborne particulate pollution associated with coal mines and coal transport as a carcinogen which has been linked to increased rates of asthma, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.
“The people of Brisbane do not want more dirty, uncovered coal wagons rumbling through their city and putting the health of their children at risk” he said.
New Acland mine operator New Hope Group recently cancelled a scheduled open day for the mine, due to heavy rainfall making the site unsuitable for visitors.
In a statement reaffirming New Hope’s long term commitment to employment in the local area, general manager projects Gerry Randell said was dedicated to supporting local businesses and engaging with them about how the procurement process would unfold for the Stage 3 project, and what work packages will be on offer.
“New Hope is committed to maximising the involvement of local businesses and the Procurement Sessions were a great step in ensuring people have all the facts and tools to give their business the best shot at a successful tender,” he said.
“New Hope is teaming up with the Department of State Development in November to continue this engagement with two Tender Readiness Workshops that will take businesses further into how to prepare for working on the mine, what work packages are most appropriate for them and how to submit their completed tenders.”