Members of the Darling Downs community are devastated after the Queensland Resources Minister announced late on Friday afternoon that he has granted a mining lease for the Acland Stage 3 coal mine expansion.
Darling Downs farmers and residents from the Oakey Coal Action Alliance are now preparing for a bigger battle over the project’s disastrous groundwater impacts. In order to proceed, the expansion still requires an associated water licence.
The Acland Stage 3 project was originally refused due to its unacceptable impact on groundwater in the original 2017 Land Court hearing. A subsequent law change by the Palaszczuk Government meant that impacts on groundwater could not be considered during the most recent Land Court challenge.
OCAA secretary Paul King said local farmers would not be cowed by the actions of the Resources Minister, and urged the Water Minister to now step up and reject the company’s groundwater licence.
“The original Land Court ruling found this expansion would have disastrous impacts on the groundwater that so many farmers in the district rely on to grow fresh produce for Queenslanders," he said.
“The local community has been put through hell by New Hope’s existing mine. It devoured the town of Acland, sending most of Acland's residents elsewhere, and it ruined the lives of residents in the surrounding district with noise and dust pollution.
“Re-opening this mine now will divide this community once again and put at risk the groundwater resources that the local dairy industry, among others, absolutely relies on.
“Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart had the opportunity to put an end to this division and prevent this dangerous, unwanted project for good, but he blew it.
“We’re calling on Water Minister Glenn Butcher to show the courage Resources Minister Scott Stewart apparently lacks, and reject a groundwater licence for the mine expansion."
Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Ellen Roberts said, “The Queensland Palaszczuk Government recently let New Hope off the hook for more than three years of illegal mining.
“Had they prosecuted New Hope, then this approval today would not have been possible.
“Today the Minister effectively granted an approval for land New Hope has already illegally mined, revealing just how broken Queensland environment laws are.
“This is an appalling outcome for the local community, who have repeatedly told the Queensland Government that the future of their region is in farming and renewables, not coal mining.”