Queensland farmers get their day in court

Local farmers today took their fight over Xstrata’s Wandoan coal mine to court.

The fate of the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere now rests in the hands of the Supreme Court in Brisbane as five farming families take on the state.

There will be a judicial review of the Minister for Environment Andrew Powell’s decision to grant an environmental authority to mining giant Xstrata to develop the $7 billion project.

The Wandoan mine would take up 30,000ha of prime agricultural land near the south-west Queensland township, mining 30 million tonnes of coal per year over three decades.

Already these five families have resisted selling their properties which lie either inside or on the outskirts of the project’s boundaries.

John Erbacher has been fighting the mine for five years and says the proceedings are about more than staying on the family farm, the ABC reported.

They are concerned about the security of groundwater on their properties, the Chronicle reported.

"I've got to be able to look my grand kids in the eye and say I tried to protect the underground water," he said.

Last year the farmers were unsuccessful when they challenged the project in the Land Court.

A date for the Supreme Court hearing is yet to be set.

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