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$896M mine expansion would create hundreds of jobs says coal producer

New Hope Group
New Hope Group

A mining group wants the Queensland Government to stop postponing its decision on whether to approve an $896 million coal mine expansion in the Darling Downs region.

New Hope Group (NHG) has offered to create up to 487 jobs at its New Acland Coal Expansion in Muldu, 60km northwest of Toowoomba.

The expansion still needs regulatory approval at a state level before those who were stood down due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic can be hired and start work.

“We are willing and able to help Queenslanders recover from this once-in-a-lifetime event,” NHG chief operating officer Andrew Boyd told News Limited. “In addition to providing job security and alleviating uncertainty in hundreds of Queensland households, once approved, New Acland Stage 3 will significantly aid Queensland’s economic recovery.”

13-year wait

So far the proponent has waited almost 13 years for the state government to give the nod, and a variety of legal challenges from other anti-mining activists have also created lengthy delays.

Growing uncertainty about the future of the project recently forced the company to retrench at least 150 staff and more heads will roll unless the government approves the expansion.

“Jobs creation throughout Queensland has never been more important and New Hope wants to help,” Boyd said.

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Court will decide

However, the state government has indicated it is waiting for the outcome of a High Court challenge from the Oakey Coal Action Alliance despite Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk recently ordering her Cabinet to find projects that could relieve the latest jump in unemployment due to the national economic shutdown.

“The government’s position on the New Acland Coal Mine expansion has been consistent since our commitment before the 2017 election: To accept the decision of the courts,” State Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham said. “We will await the outcome of the High Court action before finalising the remaining approvals for this project.”

The Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA) believes the expansion’s potential to create jobs is so great it cannot be ignored during this crisis.

“It is time the Queensland Government approved stage three of New Hope Group’s New Acland Mine, bringing to fruition the near-500 jobs it will create – including almost 200 within the first six months,” AMMA CEO Steve Knott said in a public statement. “It is time for the premier to stand up for local jobs and regional communities by swiftly resolving unnecessarily protracted approvals processes for important projects such as stage three of New Acland Mine.”

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  • I think it is totally unfair of the Qld Government to keep delaying the decision to go ahead with a decision on whether this stage three can begin!

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