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Industry pleads with authorities to save half of Queensland mine’s workforce

New Hope workers
New Hope workers

Authorities could save half of a Darling Downs mine’s entire workforce from losing jobs by saying two words, an industry body has said.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) is urging the Queensland Government to declare prescribed project status for New Hope Group’s $896 million New Acland Coal Expansion, 35km northwest of Toowoomba.

“Continuing delays to the expansion of the New Acland have frustrated workers and held back the local economy in the Toowoomba region,” CFMEU Mining and Energy division Queensland district vice president Shane Brunker said on Facebook. “If Labor committed to its pitch of ‘putting local branch members first’, it must act now to declare the New Acland expansion a ‘prescribed project’ for the state of Queensland and work with stakeholders to ensure there are no job losses.”

Jobs lost already

The announcement came ahead of the proponent’s decision to retrench 150 workers because the government has taken up to 12 years to approve stage-three mining leases, an associated water licence and continued utilisation of the Jondaryan Rail Facility.

“The 150 workers who stand to lose their jobs and their livelihood, will likely be left with no alternative but to leave the region,” New Acland coal general manager Dave O’Dwyer said in a public statement. “New Hope first sought approvals for New Acland Stage 3 back in 2007.”

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Kept in the dark

The proponent also claims its requests to meet with State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk have been ignored.

“It’s astounding we’ve heard nothing from the Palaszczuk Government, it’s obvious in the eyes of the premier the New Acland Coal workforce doesn’t matter,” O’Dwyer said. “It’s bitterly disappointing the Palaszczuk Government has turned its back on 150 workers and a region that is on its knees.”

“If you’ve made a decision, do the decent thing and tell us. Your silence is deafening,” he added.

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