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Mining boss jumps ship after $896M coal expansion delays

Shane Stephan
New Hope outgoing CEO Shane Stephan

A key decision maker at a diversified resources company stepped down after a coal operation suffered years of regulatory delays.

Shane Stephan recently resigned from his CEO and managing director position at New Hope Corporation, after waiting more than a decade for the Queensland Government to give final approval for the $896 million New Acland Coal Expansion, 53 km northwest of Toowoomba in the Darling Downs.

13-year delay

The proponent has faced fierce opposition from the anti-mining Oakey Coal Action Alliance, which has exhausted all legal avenues to prevent the expansion from proceeding. The State Government has offered little help by choosing to wait until the matter is resolved through the judicial system.

After waiting for 13 years for final approval, New Hope management was forced to make 150 workers redundant and warn the government more workers would be retrenched unless authorities granted final approval.

‘No justification’

The Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA) thanked him for his contribution to the coal industry that spanned a total of 40 years and urged the State Government to approve the expansion.

“On behalf of AMMA I congratulate Shane Stephan for a fantastic career and thank him for his contribution to our industry,” AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said in a public statement.

“New Hope Group has been seeking approval for this expansion project for 13 years … the lack of urgency from the Queensland Government is extraordinary. There is no justification for further delay on New Acland stage 3, especially at a time when the state’s economy desperately needs a boost.”

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Stephan appeared to hold no grudges against the activists or regulatory authorities for unnecessarily creating so many delays, and chose to leave on a positive note.

“The highlight of my term as CEO of New Hope has been the completion of the sequence of acquisitions leading to the company holding an 80 per cent interest in and management of the world class Bengalla Mine,” he said in a public statement.

“I am particularly pleased with the company’s improvement in safety performance over the past six years, with the total reportable injury frequency rate improving from 24 in early 2014 to 3.6 in the first half of 2020. The entire New Hope team can be proud of this.”

Stephan’s last day will be 31 August 2020.

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