Explosive evidence given in the Qld Land Court yesterday has revealed that an estimated $500M in royalties from the Acland Stage 3 coal mine expansion on the Darling Downs will flow to the coal company and a small number of property owners, instead of to the Qld Government.
This means that financial benefits of the controversial project to taxpayers will be severely limited.
Paul King from Darling Downs Environment Centre, who is an objector in the case, said that:
“Witnesses for New Hope Coal admitted in court yesterday that the direct benefits to Qld from the Acland Stage 3 coal expansion will be very limited.
“Experts gave evidence that the Qld Government and taxpayers would miss out on approximately $500M in royalties from the mine. The coal miner would effectively pay those royalties to itself and a handful of property owners” he said.
In many older land title areas in Qld, royalties are sometimes required to be paid to private landowners if they have title to the subsurface. This is the case at Acland, where the miner New Hope Coal has purchased the majority of the land earmarked for mining.
The revelations yesterday followed court admissions last week that New Hope had dramatically over-estimated jobs in the project, when their economist revised job estimates down from 2,953 jobs per annum to as few as 680 jobs per annum.
Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate Alliance said “The Qld Government approved this mine for no good reason it seems, because there is certainly no meaningful return to the Qld taxpayer.
“The local community will carry the burden of severe costs from the mine including damage to groundwater, negative health impacts, and ruined agricultural land, and yet the Qld Government will have very little to show for it.
“It’s an absolute disgrace that the community has been left to pay the ultimate price for this mine, while the coal company is busy lining their own pockets with royalties.
“Before the last election, the Qld Government promised to review the assessment process for this mine expansion, which has been marred by a political donations controversy, but they have failed to deliver on that promise since taking office.
“The revelations yesterday about royalty flows plus recent admissions that employment outcomes will be limited, and in fact local jobs in agriculture will shrink, should trigger urgent action by the Qld Government to honour their promise” he said.
 The Qld Government is likely to receive approximately $39M