New Acland mine: State Govt delay threatens 150 jobs

A KEY Queensland coal miner will today announce plans to sack half its workforce on Monday if it fails to get approval for its expansion plans from the Palaszczuk Government.

New Hope has waited 12 years for approvals for its controversial New Acland Stage 3 mine, northwest of Toowoomba, and is now running out of coal at its current site.

The company plans to make half its 300-strong workforce redundant from Monday if it does not get long-awaited mining and water licences from the Government today.

It is understood the company has human resources staff and counsellors at the ready to start talking to workers.

Workers at the New Acland Coal Mine near Oakey are worried for their future. Picture: Adam Head
Workers at the New Acland Coal Mine near Oakey are worried for their future. Picture: Adam Head

The New Acland Stage 3 proposal has been one of the most contentious mines in recent Queensland history and has been forced through numerous court challenges.

New Acland first lodged documents for the expansion in 2007 but it has faced vocal opposition, including from talkback radio host Alan Jones.

The proposal has gone through numerous changes since it was opposed by the Newman government in 2012.

The mine west of Toowoomba supplies about 26 businesses with thousands of tonnes of coal each year.

Mine general manager Dave O'Dwyer recently said time was running out to secure the Stage 3 approvals and that jobs were at stake.

"Despite long and protracted efforts to obtain key approvals for Stage 3, we are yet to be granted mining leases and the associated water licence," Mr O'Dwyer said.

The proposed $1 billion expansion won a legal battle in March and was endorsed by the state Environment Department. The 7.5 million tonne per annum mine is close to Oakey and was challenged by a group of landholders called the Oakey Coal Action Alliance.

As part of the final application, New Hope included measures to limit noise after landowners had challenged the mine expansion in court.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the impact on workers from the long delay was unacceptable.

"The uncertainty has gone on for too long," he said.

"It's time for a clear decision for the workers of New Hope and for the communities of Oakey and Toowoomba."

Speaking from India, Federal resources Minister Matt Canavan slammed the delay and demanded the Government act.

"The Queensland Government needs to explain why they've allowed this to drag out so long," he said. "People's jobs are on the line and the Queensland Government needs to act."

There was speculation within the mining sector last night that State Mines Minister Anthony Lynham would today announce New Hope's water licence, allowing the company to begin initial works.

However, consideration over the necessary mining licence is ongoing within the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.