New Hope Group has denounced allegations that it has illegally mined $500 million of coal outside of the New Acland coal mine’s approved area in Queensland.
The area in question is known as West Pit, which is located within the New Acland coal mine’s lease.
New Hope was accused of mining beyond West Pit’s leased area, which was included in its stage two project approval from the Queensland Government.
Landholders took the matter to the High Court for a supposed breach of the mine’s lease area.
The federal government plans to investigate the claim, according to Australia’s Environment Minister Sussan Ley.
“New Hope Group vehemently rejects any suggestion it is unlawfully mining at Acland,” the company stated last week.
“The mining of West Pit was considered in 2016 in the Land Court where the representative of the Department of Environment and Science confirmed that the excavation of West Pit was not in breach of New Acland Coal’s environmental authority.”
New Hope is seeking stage three approvals for New Acland, claiming the investigation has impacted jobs that the project’s next stage will provide in regional Queensland.
“This is yet another example of opportunistic green activist groups, with an agenda, bringing up spurious claims and using lawfare against New Hope Group in an attempt to frustrate and delay the approvals of New Acland Stage 3, delaying vital job creating projects in regional Queensland,” the company stated.
New Hope called out Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) in December last year for bringing the matter to the Court of Appeal, which eventually resulted in the current High Court case.
“We have been seeking approval to expand New Acland Mine for more than 12 years,” New Hope chief operation officer Andrew Boyd said in December, responding to OCAA.
“Over the past two years we have fought and won a series of legal battles against a handful of objectors to the project.”
“It is clear that this action is nothing more than an attempt to delay final decisions on Stage 3.”
The New Acland mine first began operations in 2002 and is owned and managed by New Hope.
The stage three project is expected to create 187 new jobs in the first six months and 487 jobs in 18 months, while providing an extra $7 billion for the Queensland economy.