The Queensland Land Court (QLC) has recommended that New Hope Group’s $900 million expansion of the New Acland mine be rejected.
While the potential economic benefits of the third stage of the Acland mine were highlighted, QLC member Paul Smith said that the mine would damage groundwater for farmers.
The decision is in the hands of Mines and State Development minister Anthony Lynham, who has been formally recommended to reject the proposed expansion by the QLC.
“Without this case, the costs and benefits of this project would not have been scrutinised before the independent Land Court,” said Jo-Anne Bragg, CEO of the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) Queensland.
“[Therefore] evidence including faulty groundwater modelling, increased noise and dust risks and complaints, and over-inflated job figures, would not have been exposed.”
The New Acland mine currently has 782 employees and contractors and supports many additional businesses and suppliers associated with the mine.
During peak construction of stage three, it is expected that more than 1,000 employees and contractors would be required.
“The livelihoods of these people and their families depend on the continuation of the mine and the approval of the stage three operation would provide employment stability for many years to come,” a spokesperson for New Hope Group said.
“New Hope remains committed to delivering the New Acland stage three project and will actively progress this project through the final stages of approval.
“We look forward to the Queensland Government’s timely and favourable decision regarding the future of this operation.”