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Marty Silk

Qld's Acland coal mine gets water licence

The QLD government has given the company behind the New Acland coal mine expansion a water licence. (Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Work is set to begin on expanding a thermal coal mine expansion in Queensland after the state government granted a water licence to the controversial project.

Stage three of New Hope Group's New Acland open cut mine northwest of Toowoomba was on Thursday granted a water licence, clearing the final hurdle for work to start.

Landholders and environmentalists have protested against the project, and last year unsuccessfully tried to have it blocked in the Land Court.

New Hope's project will lift the mine's thermal coal output from 4.8 million tonnes to 7.8mt a year, and extend its life for 12 years to 2034.

The water department says the licence is subject to 35 strict conditions, such as monitoring managing the mine's impacts on groundwater on aquifers and groundwater users.

"The decision was based on a comprehensive review of the application and supporting information, against the requirements of the Water Act 2000," the department said in a statement.

"The department considered matters such as public submissions, potential impacts to existing water users and the management of impacts on underground water before granting the associated water licence with strict conditions."

New Hope will have to offset any underground water impacted by mining by surrendering equivalent water entitlements.

It will also be required to monitor underground water, report how much water it takes and periodically review and update an underground water model with the latest data.

New Hope has been trying to get approval to expand New Acland, which provides thermal fuel for power plants in Australian and overseas, for almost a decade.

The mine exhausted its last reserves at the mine in late November, and has made almost 300 workers redundant since 2019.

Oakey Coal Action Alliance and Lock the Gate Alliance have doggedly opposed New Acland's expansion, saying it will impact local farmers and the environment.

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