New hope for $900 million New Acland coal mine expansion after Federal breakthrough.
A decade after their first proposal, New Hope Group's planned $900 million New Acland coal mine expansion near Oakey in Queensland has finally received Federal approval. The 10-year ordeal has been shrouded in controversy with concerns raised over the mine’s potentially damaging effects to water resources. Nonetheless, Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg has approved New Acland's Stage 3 continuation project after a thorough review of the mine's potential impacts.
But New Hope still needs several state-based approvals including the mining lease, environmental authority and an associated water licence before the company can consider a final investment decision. New Hope plans to increase the New Acland mine’s annual production of thermal coal to 7.5 million tonnes.
New Hope managing director Shane Stephen said the Federal Government’s Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) approval – provided after thorough review of the expansion’s potential impacts – demonstrated that the environmental credentials of the project “stack up”.
It’s positive news for the local community as it provides optimism for the continuity of operations at New Acland and the increased economic activity associated with the construction of the project,” Mr Stephen said.
New Acland's Stage 3 expansion project is set to create 260 new construction jobs and provide 435 people with ongoing employment. There will be an estimated $12 billion economic benefit over the project’s life to 2029. The announcement also brings some degree of comfort to local employees and local contractors who directly depend on the mine for their livelihoods.
Our 300 direct local employees and 500 contractors have been anxiously awaiting Federal and State approval of this project for many years,” Stephen said.
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive, Ian Macfarlane, said the approval was a welcome relief after years of delays and has called “on the state government to do its part to help New Hope gain the remaining critical approvals before the current resources runs out.” Stage 1 and 2 of New Acland began operations in 2002 and 2007 respectively but the coal from these lease areas is forecasted to be exhausted in 2017.
The next step for New Hope is to have the Queensland Labor Government issue the lease and water licence. However, Labor has been accused by the opposition as dragging their feet on Stage 3 of the New Acland project including imposing a new, duplicative approval process.
Here at iSeekplant, we couldn’t imagine the Queensland Government making a mountain out of a molehill... On the other hand, yes, we probably could.
The approval of the mine expansion has been opposed by environmentalists and some local landholders who believe it will have an impact on groundwater. But with hundreds of jobs at stake and many Queensland families dependent on this project proceeding, we can only hope that the State Government comes to the table sooner rather than later.
Mr Stephan commented,"Now we have the Federal approval – our people’s futures are squarely in the hands of the Queensland State Government".
… Dear God.