Regulatory authorities should not only support foreign companies but also Australian employers that hire locals, a diversified resources company has said.
New Hope Group (NHG) has criticised the Queensland Government for failing to deliver on a promise to grant all remaining approvals for its $896 million New Acland Coal Expansion, 53 km northwest of Toowoomba in the Darling Downs.
“I can’t understand it,” NHG chief executive Shane Stephan told News Limited. “They approve Adani, which is foreign-owned … and yet here we are, an Australian company that pays taxes in this country, employs local people, supports the local economy and they are not giving us a gig.”
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The remarks came after Queensland Supreme Court Justices Anthe Philippides, Martin Burns, and Walter Sofronoff dismissed a legal bid from Oakey Coal Action Alliance to stop the expansion from proceeding. At the time the State Government had indicated it would make a final decision on the project after a court ruling was handed down back in September.
However, three months later the expansion has still not been approved.
“One would think that the government would stand behind its word and, given the findings and orders of the Court of Appeal, grant those approvals very quickly,” he said. “It sends a very bad sign, not just to my board, because I know that the Acland stage III decision is looked [at] by many other participants in our industry, and they are getting concerned with regard to the signals that it is sending them with regards to investment in the state.”
The alliance is now appealing against the decision at the High Court of Australia. The legal action would not prevent the State Government from giving final approval for the project according to the proponent.
“[The alliance] is not challenging the Court of Appeal’s findings against it on the substantive issues of groundwater or apprehended bias, only the final orders,” the company said in a statement to the share market. “The company calls on the Queensland Government to immediately grant the required mining leases, an associated water licence and approval for the continued use of the Jondaryan loadout facility.”
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NHG has already laid off 150 workers due to uncertainty surrounding the future of the mine. The company warns there will be further job losses if the government continues to delay approving the project.
“We are carefully considering the court’s final orders and what they mean for the remaining approvals for this project,” State Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said in a statement.