PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Coal miner New Hope Corporation has welcomed a positive recommendation from the Queensland Land Court on the Stage 3 expansion of the New Acland mine.
The Land Court has conditionally agreed to recommend that a mining lease and environmental authority amendment be granted, subject to certain conditions, including the Coordinator General first amending the noise limit conditions.
The Queensland Land Court in May last year initially took the decision not to support the grant of a mining lease and environmental authority for the Stage 3 expansion, raising concerns about the impact of the proposed expansion on groundwater in the region.
The Land Court decision led the Department of Environment and Science to refuse New Hope’s application for an amended environmental authority.
New Hope turned to the Supreme Court, which in May this year referred the issue back to the Land Court after setting aside its initial decision after finding that grounds for a review of the Land Court decision had been established in the areas of groundwater, noise and intergenerational equity.
New Hope on Thursday told shareholders that the new recommendation was a positive step for the approval of the project, noting, however, that there was still a number of further steps required in order to obtain final project approval.
New Hope subsidiary New Acland Coal currently operates the existing New Acland mine as a 4.8-million-tonne-a-year opencut coal mine on mining lease (ML) 50170 and ML 50216; however, the mine’s reserves are depleted. The Stage 3 expansion project will increase the mine’s yearly output to 7.5-million tonnes and will extend the operation’s life by some 12 years beyond the current end-date of mid-2020.
The expanded operation will result in ongoing employment for about 300 employees and 500 contractors. It will also create 2 300 indirect jobs.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) on Thursday welcomed the positive decision by the Land Court, with CEO Ian Macfarlane saying it was good news for the regional communities around the mine.
“The New Hope mine is one of the region’s most significant employers and one of the most important economic contributors for the Darling Downs.
"This is new hope for New Hope and the 3 000 workers who rely on the Acland coal mine for their living either directly or indirectly.”
The Queensland government will now make its final decision on the approval of New Acland Stage 3.