‘Superb to see’ or ‘full insanity’? Locals’ polar opinions on New Acland mine enlargement

A small city in regional Queensland is split over the state authorities’s approval of plans to increase the New Acland thermal coal mine.

Sources Minister Scott Stewart accredited the mission yesterday, ending greater than a decade of uncertainty for Oakey, a city of 4,000 folks close to Toowoomba.

The mission nonetheless requires a authorities water licence, however in any other case it seems sure to go forward with the promise of making about 400 jobs.

Some members of the Oakey neighborhood have been buoyed by the financial potential of the mine’s reopening, whereas others maintain grave issues about its impact on the setting.

Native butcher Tony James mentioned he misplaced a major quantity of enterprise after the mine went into caretaker mode after operating out of coal reserves final yr.

He mentioned many locals and companies had moved away and the mission’s approval was “superb to see”.

“I simply hope the water lease will get accredited and so they can begin mining and assist the city a bit extra,” he mentioned.

Mr James mentioned most residents in Oakey wished the coal mine to reopen.

“Hopefully it’s going to be a bit extra buzzing within the city as a result of in the meanwhile it is a fairly solemn really feel,” he mentioned.

Oakey butcher Tony James says he is hoping the mine results in extra enterprise.(ABC Information: Georgie Hewson)

Native Alex Peters agreed.

“The coal mine has been a giant supporter of this neighborhood for a few years now so I believe it is truly fairly optimistic,” she mentioned.

“My mother-in-law truly labored on the mine, she truly misplaced her job and a variety of companies closed so hopefully with extra jobs in the neighborhood we will get again on observe.”

A smiling blond woman in a bright green shirt
Oakey resident Alex Peters says her mother-in-law misplaced her job when the mine closed down final yr. (ABC Information: Georgie Hewson )

Opposition to extra coal

New Hope had sought approval to increase the mine’s manufacturing to as much as 7.5 million tonnes every year for an additional 12 years.

The corporate solely expects to mine 5.1 million tonnes every year, although says the amount could change with demand.

Federal Member for Groom Garth Hamilton mentioned its approval would create extra jobs, progress and funding.

“I believe it is improbable to carry an finish to the uncertainty that is plagued this mission,” he mentioned.

Aerial of the open cut Acland coal mine
Mining firm New Hope has been granted approval to increase the New Acland mine.(ABC Southern Qld: Nathan Morris)

However not everyone seems to be supportive of the enlargement, because the mine is located near farmland.

Members of the Oakey Coal Motion Alliance have fought the enlargement on environmental grounds within the Queensland Land Court docket for 14 years.

An older couple standing a park
Frank and Lyn Ashman say the New Acland mine will use water that farmers have to have a tendency their cattle and crops.  (ABC Information: Georgie Hewson)

Retired cattle breeder Frank Ashman was disenchanted the plans had been accredited.

“I do not suppose folks actually perceive, nor do they recognize, the worth of the agriculture in that exact area, so yeah, actually disenchanted that they might commerce off farm manufacturing versus useful resource,” he mentioned.

He mentioned his issues went past the destruction of prime agricultural land and strategic cropping land.

“What goes with open-cut coal mining is the lack of water and the water is taken from aquifers that the farmers within the district [use]. You’ll be able to’t do something, you’ll be able to’t produce beef in order that’s how severe it’s,” he mentioned.

Federal Greens Member for Griffith Max Chandler-Mather mentioned the enlargement of a coal mine contradicted international efforts to cut back greenhouse gasoline emissions.

“The concept that we needs to be opening up and increasing thermal coal mining in Queensland after we’re on the point of a local weather disaster is full insanity,” he mentioned.

“We needs to be investing in battery storage, renewable vitality, photo voltaic and wind rather more than we needs to be utilizing 1.4 million litres of our groundwater day-after-day to increase coal mining that can cook dinner the planet and drive up our energy payments.”

Timing of announcement criticised

The timing of the announcement has additionally attracted criticism from the state opposition.

“One way or the other on a Friday afternoon, deep after 3pm, the federal government decides to approve it with out mentioning what’s modified,” Opposition Chief David Crisafulli mentioned.

However Legal professional-Normal Shannon Fentiman defended the transfer.

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