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Mining industry wins key court battle against huge Alpha Coal project

The GVK-Hancock Alpha Coal Project, which would be developed south-west of Mackay, has been in the approval process for almost a decade.
The GVK-Hancock Alpha Coal Project, which would be developed south-west of Mackay, has been in the approval process for almost a decade. dayatrhw

THE mining industry has won a key court battle holding up the huge GVK-Hancock Alpha Coal Project south-west of Mackay, which would create thousands of jobs.

The proposed 32 metric tonnes per annum open-cut coal mine and railway project in the Galilee Basin - partly owned by billionaire Gina Rinehart - would cost about $6.9 billion to develop.

At least 4000 workers would be employed during construction with another 2000 needed for ongoing operations.

The project has been in the approval process for about nine years, going through the Land Court, the Supreme Court and the Queensland Court of Appeal.

Environmental group Coast and Country, led by Derec Davies, had taken High Court action, arguing the Environmental Planning Act needed to consider greenhouse emissions from burning coal, even if it happened in another country.

But the High Court ruled an appeal would not be heard.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane welcomed the decision and said Coast and Country, through the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), had "repeatedly failed in their combined attempts to argue that a coal mine in Queensland would increase global emissions”.

He described the argument as the equivalent to activists demanding Saudi Arabia should take responsibility for exhaust emissions from Australian cars running Saudi oil.

"This is just one in a long line of anti-coal activists' attempts to delay jobs and economic growth to Queensland, while pretending that a refusal to supply our coal will mean that countries like India will not simply source their coal from elsewhere,” he said.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane welcomed the High Court's decision.
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane welcomed the High Court's decision. Bev Lacey

"The GVK Hancock project formally entered the process for its project on September 18, 2008. The activists' tactics mean that the only jobs being created are for lawyers.

"It is a deceptive argument that stopping a single coal mine in central Queensland will influence the level of global emissions.

"We know that according to the International Energy Agency coal use continues to grow over the coming decades. Therefore we have to recognise that renewables alone will not be able to meet the world's appetite for energy and Queensland's higher quality black coal is well placed to meet a large share of that demand.”

Mr Macfarlane believes the world would actually need coal, among other energy sources, to "measure up to agreements at COP21 in Paris, where nearly 200 countries committed to keeping global temperature increases below two degrees celcius”.

"The rapid roll-out of High Efficiency, Low Emission (HELE) coal technologies to generate electricity, using higher quality coal found in Queensland, feature in several countries' commitments,” he said.

"India has no intention of halting the use of coal to generate power but they are committed to using the HELE technologies, which perform best using the higher-quality coal found in Queensland. Given the energy security issues Australia is facing, we should implement HELE here, and we have said North Queensland would be the perfect place to build one.”

Mr Macfarlane asserted activists "don't ever expect to be successful” with appeals and they're only interested in delaying projects from delivering "real construction and production jobs”.

The EDO released a short statement following the court decision.

"EDO QLD, on behalf of our client conservation organisation Coast and Country, was in the High Court of Australia today (April 7) seeking special leave to take climate change arguments to our country's highest court,” it reads.

"Unfortunately the application was unsuccessful. Thank you to all those who contributed: supporters, staff and barristers.”

"There is no specific related action going forward by any current client of EDO Qld."

When contacted for more information, EDO solicitor and chief executive Jo-Anne Brag said Ian Macfarlane was "the one who is out of touch with reality”.

" ... he tries to brush aside the 1.7 billion tonnes of Carbon Dioxide that undisputedly would be caused by the massive Alpha coal mine, mainly when the coal is burnt,” she said.

"This is part of a long line of desperate attempts by the QRC to hide the two key facts: that the coal companies like Adani Carmichael are responsible for the length of the assessment process and that Adani Carmichael overstated potential jobs by 85% (Not 10,000 jobs claimed but 1464 net jobs)."

Ms Brag said it was in the public interest that "massive mines are scrutinised for their lawfulness by proper court processes, as has occurred”.

Topics:  alpha coal project climate change coal coast and country edo environmental defenders office high court jobs mining queensland resources council


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