Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Robyn Wuth

Water licence win reignites hotly disputed coal mine

New Hope has been trying to get approval to expand the New Acland mine for almost a decade. (Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Operations at Queensland's New Acland coal mine expansion will be fast-tracked after an internal review rubber-stamped the state government's water licence approvals for the project.

The New Hope Group's New Acland open-cut mine water licence approvals were endorsed by the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water on Tuesday.

The independent review examined all the information leading to the decision, the department said.

"I have reviewed all relevant materials as they relate to the decision and have decided to confirm the original decision," a departmental spokesman said in a statement.

"Following this review, I am satisfied that the decision is the appropriate decision in accordance with the Water Act 2000."

The outcome has been welcomed by the New Hope Group which restarted operations at the mine site last year.

Groundworks and operations can now be fast-tracked with the first shipment of New Acland Mine Stage 3 coal likely to leave the site in October, the company said.

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

The company said the decision was welcomed by locals, claiming it will reinvigorate Oakey and communities throughout the Darling Downs.

However, the Oakey Coal Action Alliance and Lock the Gate Alliance have doggedly opposed the project, saying it will affect local farmers and the environment.

"This is a disappointing, but not unexpected, decision by the Queensland Palaszczuk government," said alliance secretary Paul King.

"The Acland coal mine expansion will destroy valuable farmland and has recently taken seven million litres of milk out of production."

The protest group said it would continue to fight the expansion.

Preparations are being finalised for heavy machinery to return to work with more than 100 workers on site.

The permanent, full-time workforce is forecast to reach 400 workers within the next two years with 600 workers at the peak of construction.

New Hope exhausted its last coal reserves at the site, northwest of Toowoomba, in November and the company had made almost 300 workers redundant since 2019.

The project will produce up to 7.5 million tonnes of coal a year and extend the mine's life for 12 years.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.