Local farmers and residents will interrogate the lawfulness of an associated water licence granted by the Queensland Government this afternoon, and are determined to maintain their opposition to the Acland Stage 3 coal expansion on the Darling Downs.
“There is a lot riding on the grant of this water licence - farm water bores are at risk from drawdown or pollution from this mine expansion and we’ll be pursuing every avenue to protect them,” Oakey Coal Action Alliance secretary Paul King said.
“This is what the fight has been about all along - the need to protect water relied on by farmers.
“The conditions suggested by the department will do nothing to stop New Hope draining groundwater. We know New Hope violates the law without a care in the world. Conditions won’t mean a damn to this company.
“The last time the mine’s impact on groundwater was tested in a court of law, it was farmers that won the day. A law change meant that it went back to the drawing board, and now is a crucial chance to test it again.
“Extracting coal from beneath the ground drains water relied on by farmers in the surrounding district, and we believe that fact needs to be heard and considered by a court.
“We are continuing this fight to protect the ten million litres of milk produced by the dairies who rely on that groundwater.
“We are continuing this fight to protect the farmland that would be torn up because it is in the top 5% of farmland in the state.
“And we are continuing this fight because the Darling Downs are for farming, not for mining.”
New Acland does not use groundwater at its mine site. The concern farmers have is because the mining of coal depletes groundwater from the aquifers that lie beneath the pit.
New Acland pays only very limited royalties because it owns most of the land on which it mines.
New Acland’s attempts to rehabilitate mined land at New Hope have failed to restore it to the same quality as pre-mining.