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More than 100 heads roll after regulatory inaction delays $896M coal expansion

New Hope workers
New Hope workers

This is the last week at work for dozens of workers at an $896 million coal mine expansion in Queensland’s Darling Downs region.

This Friday will be the last day for 150 staff at New Hope Group’s New Acland Coal mine, 53km northwest of Toowoomba.

Failed to approve in 12 years

The proponent blamed the Queensland Government for failing to give final approval within 12 years for a proposed expansion that would have guaranteed continued work for employees. As a result the operation has no choice but to lay off staff and ramp down mining activities.

“The Premier and Minister [Anthony] Lynham could have ended the uncertainty and approved New Acland Stage 3, and helped New Acland provide long term certainty to its employees, suppliers and the local community,” New Acland general manager Dave O’Dwyer said in a public statement. “Instead, they’ve chosen to remain silent, with the result that 150 workers will be made redundant.”

‘Huge toll’

New Hope is continuing to hold one-on-one meetings with mine operator staff to help them through the redundancies that have taken a “huge toll” in the past 24 hours and been “extremely tough, particularly for the affected workers and their families”.

“Specialists, including counsellors have been onsite for the past 24 hours, supporting the entire workforce through this extremely difficult time,” O’Dwyer said. “We will also be hosting a series of outplacement sessions for affected workers to help them rebuild.”

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‘Angry and confused’

O’Dwyer said his workers and the broader Darling Downs community was “angry and confused” by the government’s lack of action, and called on political leaders to act now to avoid further redundancies.

“I call on the Premier and Minister Lynham to immediately approve New Acland Mine Stage 3 and prevent any further job losses,” O’Dwyer said.

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