Two major political parties have extended their full support for an $896 million coal project to proceed without delay in southern Queensland.
The Liberal Party of Australia and Australian Labor Party have joined industry calls for New Hope Group (NHG) to start work on the New Acland Coal Expansion, 53 km northwest of Toowoomba in the Darling Downs.
“The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has welcomed the bipartisan support from federal Labor and the LNP for the immediate approval of New Hope’s New Acland mine to stop more Queenslanders from unnecessarily losing their jobs,” the industry body said in a public statement.
123 jobs gone
NHG first applied for regulatory approval more than 12 years ago but anti-mining activists have repeatedly used the judicial system to postpone the project for years. Delays and dwindling coal production have taken a toll, with 14 per cent of the existing workforce of 150 made redundant.
QMEB can reveal the job cuts were mostly at the Queensland Bulk Handling port facility, and affect about 23 workers who were based at either the port or Brisbane head office. The remaining 150+ employees will work nine days a fortnight and receive a pay cut ranging between 10 and 30 per cent.
The news came following another 100 layoffs at the mine site that were announced back in September 2019.
CEO jumps ship
One of the most surprising departures was that of outgoing CEO Shane Stephan back in May. He will be replaced by incoming former Yancoal Australia CEO Reinhold Schmidt, who starts work in August.
Schmidt’s annual salary will be $1.5M a year including superannuation and benefits.
QRC blames Oakey Coal Action Alliance for fuelling the job losses through frivolous litigation.
“The Queensland Government has sat back and allowed lawfare by a small group of green activists to jeopardise the economic recovery of this state by delaying New Acland,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said in a public statement.
“This is a shovel-ready project that has dragged through the court system in Queensland for more than a decade and all challenges against it have been dismissed. Now the activists have taken the project to the High Court which could delay the start by years more.”
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Macfarlane believes authorities should intervene and grant all outstanding approvals.
“The State Government is not powerless here, it could step in at any time to approve the mining lease and associated water licence,” he said.
“The government has a responsibility, and the mandate, to make decisions in the best interests of all Queenslanders to fast track the economy post-COVID-19.”