GVK Hancock has welcomed a Queensland Court of Appeals decision to uphold the Environmental Authority for its Alpha Coal Project in the Galilee Basin.
Conservation group Coast and Country had challenged the authority, arguing the $7 billion project would generate emissions contributing to global warming.
“This now brings an end to four years of legal challenges from anti-mining protestors and allows us to continue developing a project that will create thousands of jobs for our state,” GVK Hancock spokesman Josh Euler said.
GVK Hancock had invested tens of millions of dollars on a broad range of environmental assessments that contributed to its environmental approvals, he said.
“We have complied with every environmental regulation set before us, as well as meeting the legal requirements of numerous court challenges,” Mr Euler said.
“Our Alpha Coal Project has been a project of State Significance since October 2008 and we will continue to work within legislative framework to advance our projects to a point where construction can commence.
“Coal from our projects will feed into a global market, creating thousands of jobs and billions in royalties and taxes for Australia, as opposed to such benefits going to overseas suppliers and countries.”
The next steps for the project were to finalise remaining approvals in order to attain the mining lease – taking it another step closer to a point where construction could commence, he said.
The GVK Hancock project involves an open-cut mine to produce 32Mtpa of high quality thermal coal, along with associated rail infrastructure including a 495km line to Abbot Point.
The Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) acted for Coast and Country in what it described as a highly specific legal case about how the impacts in Queensland from the burning of coal from this mine are to be assessed under Queensland law.
Chief executive officer Jo-Anne Bragg said their client had argued that the impact of the burning of fossil fuels from the Alpha mine should not be disregarded, or given zero weight, because other mines may cause similar impacts if the Alpha mine is refused.
“Our clients were disappointed in the decision. They are here to clarify the law regarding the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and environment through the legal system. We will carefully read the judgement to see the reasoning of the Court of Appeal,” she said.
“We all know that burning fossil fuels is contributing to global warming, extreme weather events and severe damage to our Great Barrier Reef. Every further approval locks in those impacts.”
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the Land Court, the Supreme Court and now the Court of Appeal had all found that whether or not the GVK Hancock mine proceeded, there would be no effect on global demand for coal and therefore no effect on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted globally.
“Today’s decision comes as no surprise. This is just one in a long line of anti-coal activists’ attempts to delay jobs and economic growth to Queensland while pretending that a refusal to supply our coal will mean that countries like India will not simply source their coal from elsewhere,” Mr Roche said.
“Once again the Coast and Country is using the taxpayer-funded Environmental Defenders Office to put forward its fallacious argument that stopping a single coal mine in central Queensland will influence the level of global emissions.”
Mr Roche said that the further 12-month delay to the project had come about only because the land court agreed to hear the objections on Scope 3 emissions for the Alpha mine, even though there was already a precedent for rejecting this ground of appeal in an earlier ruling by the former President of the Land Court in the Wandoan mine case.
“This failure to take into account precedent is why QRC would want to be part of the strategic review of the operations of the Land Court, that has been instigated by the new president, Fleur Kingham,” Mr Roche said.
“Now the question really is, who will pay the court costs? Will it again be the taxpayers of Queensland?”