Gina Rinehart’s $6.4 billion Alpha Coal mine project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin could go either way after being recommended for either rejection or conditional approval by the state’s Land and Environment Court.
Handing down its recommendations for the Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney today, which are not yet binding, Queensland’s Land and Environment Court said the project should either be rejected or approved subject to strict water and environmental conditions.
The 149 page court document will now be considered by Seeney who in a statement today welcomed the decision, saying he was pleased “this matter had been finalised.”
He added: “We look forward to working with the project proponents to deliver jobs and economic benefits to Queenslanders,” he said.
The project is already subject to over a 100 pages of both state and federal conditions and today’s ruling is calling for more conditions to be imposed over the project.
“We will closely examine the Land Court decision, in the light of the conditions already placed on the project by both the Queensland Coordinator General and the Commonwealth Government,” Seeney said.
The multi-billion dollar project was challenged in the court after activists and and farmers launched legal action over concerns about the coal mine’s impact on groundwater, climate change and the surrounding environment.
The recommended conditions include groundwater monitoring and water licences.
In a statement GVK Hancock said it welcomed the court’s recommendations that the Environmental Authority and Mining Lease for our Alpha coal project be granted subject to conditions.
“We fully understand the significant benefits our projects will bring to the region and will continue to work with the environmental regulators in relation to these recommendations,” the company said.
The 30 million tonne per annum coal project which is a joint venture between Gina Rinehart’s Hancock prospecting and Indian owned GVK was originally approved by the Federal and State governments in 2012.
Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche said the Land Court challenges dismissed today were instigated by environmental activists.
“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.”
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