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Alpha coal project gets Lands Court approval under strict conditions

Gina Rinehart’s Alpha Coal Project has cleared another hurdle after yesterday’s Lands Court decision to uphold government approvals for the project, subject to strict conditions around water management and compensation.

Community, environmental and agricultural groups launched a number of legal challenges last year against GVK Hancock’s multi-billion-dollar proposed project in the Galilee Basin in Central Western Queensland.

The Land Court on Tuesday released its non-binding recommendations for the Queensland Government saying that if the project is approved it should be subject to a number of strict conditions including water monitoring, licensing regulation and generous compensation allowances for environmental damage to neighbouring property and waterways.

Speaking to the ABC, GVK Hancock spokesman Josh Euler said, “Today we welcome the recommendation from the Land Court to grant the environmental authority and mining lease for our Alpha coal mine, in line with a couple of conditions,” he said.

“Obviously we need to work through these conditions. We’ll be continuing to work with the environmental authorities going forward to sort through all those recommendations mean.

Also speaking to the ABC, local pastoralist Peter Anderson, said he and his neighbours were very satisfied with the outcome of the Land Court’s deliberations.

“A make-good agreement on the impact to underground water; that’s what we were after,” he said.

“We were never trying to stop the mine from going ahead … our door’s always been open if they wanted to come back and talk to us.

“Hopefully after this decision, we hear from them within days to be honest, to start this negotiation process for a worthwhile make-good agreement.”

“If this mine goes ahead, there’s every chance that other mines will go ahead in the Galilee Basin and I don’t think anyone would dispute that, and we could easily end up surrounded on three sides by mines to our property.

“That’s why we’re so worried about the underground water.”

Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche congratulated developers GVK Hancock, saying the Alpha project had the potential to kick-start one of the most significant regional developments in the state’s history.

‘The Alpha project is a long-term commitment to Queensland that will generate an estimated 7,500 jobs during construction, almost 4,000 operational positions and around $40 billion in royalties and taxes during its lifetime,’ Mr Roche said.

‘This kind of economic development is a game changer for the central west in addressing a long-term decline in the region’s fortunes.

‘Access to electricity is also acknowledged as a key to alleviating poverty and the Galilee is poised to play a role in providing affordable energy with the lowest possible carbon footprint.’

Mr Roche said the Land Court challenges dismissed today were instigated by the ‘usual suspects’ including anti-coal movement activists and a resident of Canberra.

‘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.

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