Nov 27, 2020

Ball in State’s court after Federal nod on coal plan

Ball in State’s court after Federal nod on coal plan

The New Acland Stage 3 project has won Federal Government approval for its Groundwater Management and Monitoring Plan (GMMP).

This was the final approval required at a Federal level and means the project only needs State sign off to become a reality, project owner New Hope Group says.

Delay in securing approvals for Stage 3 to continue New Acland operations has seen the company shed workers and start to wind down activity.

Its most recent quarterly report noted that the site’s coal handling and processing plant (CHPP) had reduced operations to just four days
per week and the night shift production team had been reduced.

The future of the thermal coal mine, north-west of Oakey, was a major State election issue due to the Labor Government’s refusal to approve Stage 3 on the grounds that all matters before the courts had not been finalised.

New Hope Group chief executive officer Reinhold Schmidt said the approval of the GMMP was a vital piece of the overall puzzle.

“In approving our GMMP, the Federal Government is confirming the Stage 3 project will have manageable impacts on groundwater in the area we operate,” Mr Schmidt said.

“The plan, and the associated modelling, has now been thoroughly reviewed by four State and Commonwealth regulatory regimes as well as many independent experts, including Geoscience Australia, the CSIRO and the Independent Expert Scientific Committee. In fact, this is potentially the most comprehensive GMMP in existence.

“The approval of this plan should put to rest the fanciful claims of the project’s objectors that New Acland Stage 3 will destroy the supply of groundwater in the region.”

Mr Schmidt said it was now over to the State Government to get the project up and running.

“All that is stopping the project now is the granting of our mining leases and the associated water licence from the Queensland State Government,” Mr Schmidt said.

He said he was looking forward to meeting the new State Resources Minister Scott Stewart to work with him on a way forward for the project.

“This project will create much-needed jobs for the local area and provide the economic boost the State Government is looking for post COVID-19,” he said.

Once approved the New Acland Stage 3 project will create 187 new jobs within the first six months, 487 jobs within 18 months and inject $7 billion into the economy.