New Acland approval delay threatens Qld's coal investment mantle

THE ongoing legal saga over the approval of New Hope Group’s plans to develop its New Acland stage three project in Queensland threatens to derail confidence in the state’s coal mine approval and investment process at the worst possible time.
New Acland approval delay threatens Qld's coal investment mantle New Acland approval delay threatens Qld's coal investment mantle New Acland approval delay threatens Qld's coal investment mantle New Acland approval delay threatens Qld's coal investment mantle New Acland approval delay threatens Qld's coal investment mantle

Hogsback reckons Queensland should not let important projects get hijacked by lawfare.

This week the Oakey Coal Action Alliance succeeded in its High Court challenge to send the New Acland application back to the Queensland Land Court. 

This was obviously a win for the OCAA, however, it was highly questionable whether this was a win for a state with world class coal projects that could be left on the drawing board.

Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane said New Hope's proposal to expand its open-cut mine near Oakey should have been approved by the Queensland government after it went through the appropriate state regulatory channels and consultation processes and received Coordinator General approval.

"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."

QRC is asking the Queensland government to provide certainty around the process required to approve an expansion of any mine in Queensland.

The benefits of an efficient and fair approvals process are plain to see.

Pembroke Resources' $1 billion Olive Downs coking coal project in the Bowen Basin received its approvals at lightning speed compared with New Acland.

The benefits of that mine to the local communities and workforce are already kicking in. 

Pembroke chairman and CEO Barry Tudor said last September when Olive Downs was granted mining leases that the company was ready to start the first stage of the project.

"We are extremely pleased to have been granted the mining leases, having consulted extensively with the local community over the past four years," Tudor said.

The mining leases grants follow approvals from the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Olive Downs is expected to produce 15 million tonnes per annum of saleable coal over its 79-year mine life and create more than 1000 jobs in the region.

Queensland's controversial hard border policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will require a concerted effort to get its industry moving.

"Right now Queensland desperately needs new jobs and a boost in economic activity to stimulate a post-COVID recovery," Macfarlane said.

"That won't happen unless the industry has certainty and confidence in the approval process for mining applications."

Hogsback reckons Queensland should not let important projects get hijacked by lawfare groups who will only stall the economic development of the state and threaten investment in its coal industry.