The Queensland Resources Council is calling on the State Government to provide certainty around the process required to approve an expansion of New Hope Group’s New Acland coal mine.
And it has pointed to action by the previous Bligh Government to allow the Wollombi coal mine as a precedent.
The QRC’s request comes after the High Court referred an appeal by the Oakey Coal Action Alliance against the expansion back to Queensland’s Land Court.
Chief executive Ian Macfarlane said New Hope and the Queensland resources industry were looking for an assurance from the State Government that any ruling would not be further delayed by challenges by activists.
He said there was precedent for the government to take action to support the expansion of New Acland Stage 3, which was approved for development by Queensland’s Coordinator General in 2014.
“Former Premier Anna Bligh enacted legislation in 2007 to allow for an expansion of Xstrata’s Wollombi coal mine,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“The Premier took this action after the Queensland Court of Appeal found in favour of objections to the mine and referred the matter back to the Land Court for a re-hearing.
“The Premier’s response was to announce her government would legislate to remove uncertainty saying: “My government is not prepared to have this uncertainty. Next week we will legislate to validate the mining lease so the mine can proceed, but only with stringent environmental requirements”
Mr Macfarlane said that decision came in the same year New Hope lodged an application to expand its New Acland mine, which was 14 years ago.
“Right now Queensland desperately needs new jobs and a boost in economic activity to stimulate a post-COVID recovery,” he said.
“That won’t happen unless the industry has certainty and confidence in the approval process for mining applications.”
Mr Macfarlane said hundreds of workers employed at New Acland had already lost their jobs and local communities and businesses were suffering because of a small group of activists who refused to accept the Coordinator General’s decision.
“It’s extremely concerning that a mining operation can be held up in this way by a small group of people who have been prepared to delay the project by any legal means possible, regardless of the impact on the surrounding community who want this project to happen,” he said.
“This type of situation can potentially happen to any company, and reflects very poorly on Queensland’s attractiveness as an investment destination.”