QMEB ยป Qld coal mine will reopen in 2023 says resources executive
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Qld coal mine will reopen in 2023 says resources executive

New Hope Group
New Hope Group

A Darling Downs $896 million coal operation will be resurrected in the New Year, a mining boss revealed.

New Hope Group has confirmed a 2023 timeframe for reviving its New Acland Coal Stage 3 Expansion, 53km northwest of Toowoomba.

The State Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water recently granted the final associated water licence. This means no further approvals are required and the proponent’s lengthy 15-year regulatory process has officially ended.

“Early next year, within months, we will be looking to start moving material. There will be jobs [and] hiring really soon,” New Acland Mine general manager Dave O’Dwyer said at a press conference.

More than 800 jobseekers have expressed interest in the first round of recruitment, during which between 320 and 400 positions are promised to be filled. When the project ramps-up a total of 600 workers will be required. Prospective contractors and suppliers are also needed.

“Applications on the expressions of interest (EOI) portal has been overwhelming and we have seen in the last 24 hours this is ticking up with this news [of full approval] coming through,” O’Dwyer said.

“Advertising will start really soon. We will be looking at that EOI portal again. Keep an eye out for jobs and the message for anybody if they are interested in getting on our team is to jump on that portal, get your name and resume there โ€“ keep an eye out for specific jobs and we will be putting people on as soon as we can.”

Click here to apply.

Coops Construction is one of many local businesses bidding for work on the project. QMEB understands the contractor is very upbeat about its chances of being shortlisted.

“[Final project approval] means stability that we have got some future where we can plan for a longer term business plan, start to purchase new vehicles, another property and all sorts of assets โ€“ and buy for the long-term. We [will] do building maintenance, earthmoving to labour hire to support their industry to mine coal,” Coops CEO Dave Cooper said.

New Hope has committed to hiring Queenslanders and choosing local suppliers. This procurement strategy is promised to lure more former residents back, and attract others to the region.

“New Acland employs locally [and] they are not interested in FIFO workers, so it is really good for the local economy and all of the businesses that supply,” Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise CEO Ali Davenport said.

“We have lost a lot of people who were local, they had to move away because they lost their jobs. To get some of those people back and new people into town will be really good,” Oakey Chamber of Commerce president Andrew Langton added.

The proponent still must meet 35 environmental conditions for the water licence, including monitoring and reporting groundwater levels, aquifers and other water users. The company could also have to surrender equivalent water entitlements to offset any underground water impacted by mining activity.

Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) vowed to challenge the department’s decision to grant a water licence, and has already appointed a king’s counsel who offered to represent activists for free.

“New Hope can now reopen the mine but we have also have a final chance to challenge it … [and] an associated water licence (AWL) can be challenged in the Land Court. Now the government has decided to grant the AWL we have 28 days to scrutinise the conditions, seek legal advice and lodge a challenge,” OCAA said on the Chuffed website.

The group attracted more than $1000 in donations out of their $50,000 target at the time of publication.

“Any legal action that goes on now is between the objectors/concerned parties and state government. We have supplied everything, approvals have been provided by the state government, so we are going to start working as soon as we can โ€“ any objectors can take that up with the state government,” O’Dwyer said.

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