Angela Dow, heavy equipment operator at New Hope Coal.
Angela Dow, heavy equipment operator at New Hope Coal.

Mining owner’s plea: Let me create Qld jobs

THE owner of a proposed new Queensland coal mine - which has been waiting 4736 days for approval - has pleaded for the Palaszczuk Government to make a decision so it can create jobs.

New Hope boss Andrew Boyd yesterday told The Courier-Mail that while Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had tasked her ministers to find shovel-ready projects to create work during the coronavirus crisis, the company's Acland Stage 3 mine remained in limbo.

"We are willing and able to help Queenslanders recover from this once-in-a-lifetime event," Mr Boyd said. "In addition to providing job security and alleviating uncertainty in hundreds of Queensland households, once approved, New Acland Stage 3 will significantly aid Queensland's economic recovery."

After almost 13 years of battling bureaucrats, political headwinds and repeated court action by land owners and environmentalists, the mine has all the necessary approvals.

However, the Palaszczuk Government has refused to give the final green light, insisting it needs to wait until the Oakey Coal Action Alliance exhausts its mooted High Court challenge.

Ms Palaszczuk last week ordered ministers to bring forward a works program of private and public sector projects to help Queensland recover from the pandemic.

New Hope estimates the mine will create 487 direct jobs in the first 18 months, provide a $7 billion boost to the economy and keep local suppliers in work.

"Jobs creation throughout Queensland has never been more important and New Hope wants to help."

However, Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the Government would not change its position on New Acland regardless of the impact that coronavirus was having on the economy.

"The Government's position on the New Acland Coal Mine expansion has been consistent since our commitment before the 2017 election: to accept the decision of the courts," he said. "We will await the outcome of the High Court action before finalising the remaining approvals for this project."

Lock The Gate's Paul King said New Hope's "shrill demands" for the government to  ignore a legal challenge was an insult to the farmers "who are desperately trying to protect some of the most productive agricultural land in the state". 

"We have taken this matter to the High Court in part because this coal mine expansion will kill farming jobs and threaten food production, including 10 million litres of milk, at a time when it is needed more than ever," Mr King said.

"If the High Court finds in OCAA's favour, the Stage 3 application may be referred back for a rehearing. By law the minister cannot approve a mining lease without a recommendation from the Land Court.

"New Hope has to play by the rules. New Hope appealed the original Land Court decision. It is up to the High Court now, so it is totally unfair for New Hope to call for approvals from the government. It would be irresponsible and wrong to pre-empt the court."

Originally published as Mining owner's plea: Let me create Qld jobs

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