The peak representative body for Queensland minerals and energy sector companies has welcomed the Premier Bligh’s decisive action to provide legislative support for the proposed expansion of Xstrata Coal’s Newlands mine in the Bowen Basin.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said today’s Supreme Court appeal ruling to return the environmental approval process to the Land Court would have meant further delay for a proposal that went before the Land and Resources Tribunal almost 12 months ago.
“I believe industries across Queensland will breathe a collective sigh of relief that the state government is moving to support a well-credentialed proposal, rather than see it languish any longer in the approvals process,” Roche said.
The Queensland Conservation Council lodged an objection to the Newlands mine extension on the basis that carbon dioxide created during its development and operation would contribute to global warming and damage the Great Barrier Reef.
The recent Supreme Court decision was made on grounds relating to the conduct of the hearing and not matters of evidence such as debating climate change science.
“The government’s legislative response will restore certainty for this project and hopefully for others to follow,” Roche said.
“Resource sector companies today are very conscious of the community’s expectations of their environmental performance, and rightly so.
“However, there also thousands of people in regional Queensland whose expectations of job security rank just as highly, especially when development proposals meet all required environmental criteria.
“We are not saying that public concern over greenhouse gas emissions should be dismissed.
“Indeed, the Australian coal industry is allocating $1 billion over the next decade to support the demonstration of technologies to reduce and eventually eliminate emissions from power stations.
“In Queensland alone, the state government and industry will spend around $900 million making affordable, low emission coal-fired energy a reality. This will be good for the environment and good for Queensland in helping to secure the future of regional jobs and communities.”
Roche said the coal industry was also a strong supporter of a national carbon emissions trading scheme to encourage the growth of low emission power generation technologies, including renewable sources.