New Acland gets Qld Land Court green light

THE Land Court of Queensland has recommended that New Hope’s New Acland Mine Stage 3 mining leases and its environmental authority amendment application be granted, subject to conditions.
New Acland gets Qld Land Court green light New Acland gets Qld Land Court green light New Acland gets Qld Land Court green light New Acland gets Qld Land Court green light New Acland gets Qld Land Court green light

The New Acland Stage 3 project is expected to create 450 jobs and pump $7 billion into the Queensland economy.

New Acland mine general manager Dave O'Dwyer said this was an excellent result for New Hope Group, its employees, their families and our supporters in the Darling Downs community.

"There are still a number of steps required to obtain final project approval for Stage 3," he said.

"We will continue to work closely with the relevant Queensland government departments to achieve these approvals, which will enable a restart of operations and employment opportunities for hundreds of local workers at the New Acland Mine, as well economic opportunities for the region more broadly."

Mining at the New Acland mine site in Queensland's Darling Downs stopped on November 26 after it exhausted its supply of coal on its existing leases.

Due to uncertainty about the mine's future with no decision from the Queensland government, more than 280 workers have been stood down from the mine since 2019. There are only 20 staff on the site for care and maintenance.

New Hope said the final approval after conditions were met should enable a restart of operations.

The New Acland Stage 3 project is expected to create 450 jobs and pump $7 billion into the Queensland economy.

A revised application to expand the mine was first rejected by the Queensland government in 2018 following a recommendation of refusal by the Land Court in 2017.

The mining company appealed the 2017 Land Court recommendation to the Supreme Court which, in 2018, found parts of the recommendation to be in error.

The Supreme Court ordered the Land Court to rehear the case, albeit bound by most of the original findings from 2017.

In November 2018 a reconstituted Land Court recommended the project be approved and in 2019 the environmental approval was granted.

Further appeals to the Court of Appeal in 2019 then also found the 2017 Land Court decision to be affected by apprehended bias but did not order a fresh hearing.

The Court of Appeal decision caused doubts regarding the validity of the 2018 Land Court decision, which relied heavily on the 2017 Land Court decision that had been found to have been affected by apprehended bias.

Oakey Coal Action Alliance appealed to the High Court, with leave, in 2020 arguing it should have been afforded a fresh hearing, unconstrained by the earlier 2017 decision found to be affected by bias.

The High Court allowed the appeal and ordered a fresh hearing in the Land Court.

In a statement the Queensland resources minister Scott Stewart said: "We've always said we will let the legal process finish before any decision was made.

"As a government, we will now thoroughly consider the recommendation from the Land Court of Queensland."