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Marty Silk

Review may send Acland mine back to court

Environmental groups have previously challenged mining leases for the New Acland project. (Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

The Queensland government has launched an internal review of its decision to grant a water licence to New Hope's major thermal coal mine at New Acland, which could allow activists to challenge it in court.

Stage three of the ASX-listed company's open-cut mine northwest of Toowoomba was granted an associated water licence in October, clearing the final hurdle for work to start.

The green light came after a decade-long political and legal battle to stop the project, which will lift the mine's coal output from 4.8 million tonnes to 7.5 million tonnes a year and extend its life for 12 years to 2034.

The Oakey Coal Action Alliance and Lock the Gate on Monday applied for a review of the decision to grant the licence, which has been branded "green lawfare" by New Hope Group.

The groups said they had expert advice showing the water department did not have sufficient modelling of the mine's impacts on groundwater or a clear plan to monitor and manage any impact.

The Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water has launched an internal review which can take up to 20 days with the possibility of a further 30-day extension.

"An internal review process has commenced and will be conducted in accordance with the Water Act," a department spokesman told AAP on Tuesday.

If the department rejects the evidence provided, the Oakey Coal Action Alliance or Lock the Gate can apply in the Land Court to overturn its decision to grant the water licence.

The same groups have previously challenged mining leases and the environmental authority for the New Acland project in the same court.

New Acland Mine general manager Dave O'Dwyer said the review was between the activists and the government, but New Hope did not want any further delays on the mine.

He said the company had 35 staff on the site and planned to hire another 70 workers.

"We don't want to see green lawfare being used to delay projects, whether it's us or any other investment in this in this state, is so important to get that up and running," Mr O'Dwyer told reporters at the mine on Tuesday.

"So we just ask that the government goes through their processes and make sure that they they have a fair and equitable process.

"We don't want to see any more delays, we've got people coming on, they're excited to be working, we've got suppliers that are really excited to be coming on."

New Hope Group has also sought its own review of two conditions in the water licence, which it says are inconsistent with the coordinator-general's conditions, and state and federal approval, for its New Acland project.

The company exhausted its last coal reserves at the Acland site in November 2021 and has made almost 300 workers redundant since 2019.

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