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New Hope condemns 'political stunt'

A RALLY organised by the Lock the Gate Alliance at New Hope's rail loading facility outside Jondaryan in Queensland near its New Acland coal mine appeared to be politically motivated in the lead up to the state election, according to New Hope chief operating officer Bruce Denney.

Lou Caruana
New Hope condemns 'political stunt'

The rally – which was attended by radio broadcaster Alan Jones – was protesting against the proposed stage three expansion of New Acland.

Denney said New Hope had pledged to move the Jondaryan rail loading facility away from the township outskirts to an area on the mining lease if stage three of the New Acland project gained approval.

“This significant $62 million investment demonstrates our goodwill and commitment to maintaining a working partnership with the local community,” Denney said.

“All we have ever asked for is that the Stage 3 proposal be judged on the facts and its merits, not political stunts like we’ve seen here today.”

The preferred site for the proposed new rail loading facility is more than 8 km northeast of Jondaryan, at the remote southern end of the new mining lease application for New Acland.

Denney said the decision to move the facility, which has been welcomed in discussions with local residents and stakeholders, had been made after many months of planning and consultation.

The proposed New Acland expansion has been declared a significant project and will be evaluated on its merits by the state coordinator-general. At its peak the operation would employ more than 500 people.

“An invitation was extended to rally organisers to meet with New Hope management last week to sensibly discuss their issues, but they declined our offer,” Denney said.

“New Hope’s door is always open to local residents and others who have any issues with our operations.

“This event however, appears to be fully orchestrated and politically motivated, serving the interests of a vocal minority.

“The organisers of this action have bussed in professional protesters from across southeast Queensland, giving no consideration for the 300-plus local people employed at New Acland, their families and the local community.”

Denney said coal mining had been an enormous economic spur to the region for the past 100 years.

“New Acland has been part of the Darling Downs community for ten years and many hundreds of livelihoods depend directly on the mine, and many thousands more benefit indirectly,” he said.

“Over the past decade we have established an excellent relationship with the majority of local residents who recognise the substantial benefits of having a major employer and economic stimulator in their region.”

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