The Brisbane Court of Appeal rejected an appeal on November 1 by the Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) against New Acland Coal’s Stage 2 mine extension, which was lodged on the grounds of its potential impacts on groundwater.
The ruling is the latest in a 12-year battle by local farmers in Queensland’s Darling Downs, one of Australia’s richest agricultural areas, to prevent the expansion going ahead.
New Hope operates the mine as New Acland Coal (NAC), which had successfully challenged an earlier landmark legal victory calling on the state mining minister to reject the application. It also succeeded in having the issue of groundwater considered as not relevant, which was the basis for OCAA’s appeal.
The alliance said the court's decision is a significant blow for those already feeling the pinch of the drought.
OCAA secretary Paul King said: "There is still a massive question mark about groundwater impacts to be considered in relation to this mine.
"Farmers can't afford to see groundwater drained away.
"The mine still doesn't have an associated water licence or planning interest approvals, and we don't believe they should be granted either, given the severe impacts it will cause.”
A November 1 OCAA statement noted: “NAC can continue to seek their associated water licence, but we will fight them because the farmers need that water…
“We have bucket loads of determination and a smorgasbord of options.
“Remember, NAC started this Lawfare … but we will finish it on whichever field we find ourselves.”
The state mining minister is still to approve the outstanding licences.
[Extinction Rebellion will host a protest on November 19 at 12pm outside the New Hope AGM at Ipswich Civic Centre, Ipswich.]