New Hope prepares 150 New Acland workers for redundancy

Image: New Hope Group

New Hope Group is set to make 150 New Acland workers redundant by Friday as its stage three project continues to be in abeyance pending final approvals.

The company has started notifying the individual workers since Monday afternoon, according to New Acland general manager Dave O’Dwyer.

New Hope has blamed the redundancy on the indecision of the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham.

“Both the Premier and Minister Lynham stated last week, they would make a decision following the Court of Appeal,” New Hope chief operating officer Andrew Boyd said last week.

The court has ruled in favour of New Hope and decided the Land Court recommendation regarding a groundwater issue at New Acland was “infected by apprehension of bias.”

New Acland still requires mining leases and associated water licence, despite being granted its environmental authority in March.

New Hope has made specialists including counsellors available on-site for the past 24 hours to support the workforce through the redundancy.

“The safety of the New Acland workforce has always been my number one priority, and that will continue, despite the difficult circumstances,” O’Dwyer said.

New Hope added: “The company remains focussed on securing all necessary approvals for Acland stage three to target continuity of operations and employment for the workforce ad contractors who rely upon the operation to support their families.”

The company has coincidentally released its 2019 financial year results, showing the company had hit a record full-year profit on the back of its Bengalla joint venture (JV) in New South Wales.

New Hope’s revenue climbed by 21 per cent to $1.3 billion from operations on the prior corresponding period.

The company acquired an additional 40 per cent stake in Bengalla during the 2019 financial year and saw an increase in Bengalla’s production rate to 10 million tonnes a year.

New Hope director Shane Stephan said the 2019 result was outstanding given the company is yet to have a full year trading under the new Bengalla JV arrangement.

“The company had proven that, through strong financial management, strategic acquisitions and investments and a focus on low cost operations, it was able to continue to generate sustainable long-term returns for shareholders,” New Hope’s media statement read.

New Hope predicted coal markets would remain volatile in the near term, however, demand for high quality thermal coal remains strong across Australia.

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