9 April 2014
However, it is dependent wholly on the condition that it obtains licences to use and take water under the Water Act, otherwise, the Land Court stated that the mine should be rejected outright.
This latest announcement may be a massive win for Rinehart, following her Roy Hill iron ore mine securing billions of dollars in funding for its development.
The upholding of the original government approvals – dependent on groundwater issues – for the joint venture between Rinehart’s Hancock Coal and GVK was welcomed by the company.
One of the major hurdles for the approval of the project was environmental concerns, with GVK Hancock saying that “during the case, objections were heard in relation to climate change, economics, surface water, groundwater, land use, public interest, and greenhouse gas emissions,” it said in a company statement.
“In its judgment the Land Court clearly confirmed that GVK Hancock’s comprehensive environmental assessment addressed all the objections raised with no requirement for further conditions apart from ground water,” a company spokesperson said.
The announcement was also welcomed by the Queensland Resources Council.
“This kind of development is a game changer for [Queensland’s] central west in addressing a long term decline in the region’s fortune,” QRC’s head Michael Roche said.
The approval by the Land Court also represents the first steps in the QLD government’s proposal to address objections to major projects in the state.
The QLD government has recently been working towards halting or delaying legal actions by those not associated with, or located near, new projects, considering restricting who can object to mining applications.
As it stands, any person or group can object to applications, whether they are directly affected by the operation or not, forcing the matter into the Land Court.
At the time QLD deputy premier Jeff Seeney said “it’s obvious that the current process allows individuals or groups who are fundamentally opposed to the coal industry – for whatever reason – to use the objection process to frustrate and delay those projects”.
“The people of Queensland have elected us as a Government based on developing our coal industry to supply the world markets and our processes need to allow us to do that.”
QLD mines minister Andrew Cripps added that “extreme greens” from interstate and overseas were fighting many of these approvals.
It has previously been revealed that Greenpeace had developed a plan to fund “scandal research” to help shut down coal mining.
Roche said the Land Court challenges against Alpha that have been dismissed were instigated by “the usual suspects”, including anti-coal movement activists, and even a resident of Canberra.
“Genuine community concerns should and can be given voice at the Environmental Impact Statement stage of a project’s regulatory process, rather than resorting to expensive and long-winded Land Court objections at the end of the process,” he said.
“Lots of objections and no solutions is the mantra of the anti-coal activists who place more value on feeling good about themselves than dealing with real problems in the real world,” Roche said.
The Alpha Coal project will employ around 7500 people across the Galilee Basin region during construction, and close to 4000 once in operation, contributing approximately $40 billion in taxes and royalties over the life of the mine.
Courtesy of Ferret