New Acland mine
|This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Australia and coal|
Since early 2012 New Hope Corporation has been pushing for the Stage 3 expansion of the New Acland mine in Queensland, Australia. The company received federal approval for the expansion on December 1, 2020
The project is located 16km north west of Oakey in the Darling Downs region of Queensland.
In 2017 New Hope Group said that the current mining lease will be exhausted in mid 2020. Consequently the future for the mine relies on approval of the New Acland Stage 3 Project. If approved the expansion would allow the surface mine to operate until 2031.
The expansion of the mine has been mired in controversy. A detailed description of the legal process is found on the Environmental Law Australia website. After several court cases, in September 2019 the Queensland Court of Appeal ruled the Land Court did not have the power to consider groundwater impacts from mining. This was the argument that Oakley Coal Action Alliance used to stop the mine from expanding prior to this date. As of September 2019 the Queensland government is still to rule on its pending water licence for the project.
The application was refused in 2017 because of the operation's potential impact on groundwater. "The decision means that the case is now expected to be re-heard in its entirety, although today’s [10 September 2019] decision means the Land Court will not be able to consider the mine’s impact on the precious groundwater that supplies the prime agricultural land of the region as part of evaluating the positive and negative impacts of the proposal."
Oakey Coal Action Alliance secretary Paul King said the project should never have been allowed to proceed due to the harm it would inflict on local farmers, the environment, and the Oakey economy.
"This is a very difficult outcome for local farmers who have lived with this threat for ten long years and now face more uncertainty due to this technicality, while they struggle with a worsening drought and reduced groundwater supply," he said.
"The farming land around Oakey is classed in the top 1.5% in Queensland. It is madness that it should be destroyed for the sake of a temporary coal mine.
The uncertainty surrounding the mine expansions threatens the existing workers on the site. Redundancy procedures were triggered on 2 September 2019, as the expansion had not been approved.
Following his election to parliament and appointment as Premier in early 2012 Campbell Newman announced that the government would not allow the New Hope Corporation to expand the New Acland mine, from 5 million tonnes a year to 10 million tonnes a year of thermal coal. The expansion of the mine, Newman stated, was "inappropriate". A spokeswoman for the Liberal National Party (LNP) told The Australian that "the LNP don't support open-cut coalmining on strategic cropping land anywhere in the state ... The LNP will not support the proposal for Acland stage three (because) it covers some areas of strategic cropping land, and would come too close to local communities."
Despite the rebuff, a spokesman for New Hope said that "we will continue to work with the new LNP government" but would not say whether they aimed to gain approval for an amended proposal. In its April 2012 quarterly activities report for the quarter, New Hope stated only that "submission of the supplementary EIS has been delayed from the planned submission date of mid April 2012 due to ongoing discussions being held with the new Co-ordinator General."
In its 2009 Annual Report, New Hope Corporation states that it produced 4.263 million tonnes of coal from the mine during the year. "New Acland has completed the initial development of a second open cut pit south of the current operations to maximise coal qualities and operating flexibility. First coal from this southern pit was processed in mid September 2008," the report states.
"Planning is well advanced on the next incremental expansion at New Acland (New Acland Stage 3 expansion) to 4.8 million tonnes per year. The expansion is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2009/10, subject to construction contractor performance. The scale of this incremental expansion will maximise production within existing mining approvals and fully utilise available rail capacity," the report stated.
The company was accused of illegal mining in 2018 and noncompliance with its license. The investagation was still ongoing in June 2020.
According to research from Australian environmental group Market Forces, in December 2018 the Australian commercial banks ANZ and NAB were among lenders that provided AUS$600 million to New Hope Coal for purposes including the proposed New Acland Stage 3 coal mine. The deal was shrouded in secrecy, as New Hope’s CEO declined to publicly identify the lenders. Market Forces point out that NAB's involvement in the funding for New Acland Stage 3 contradicts its commitment to no longer finance new thermal coal mines or extensions.
- Sponsor: New Hope Coal
- Parent Company: New Hope Group
- Location: 14km north west of Oakey in the Darling Downs region of Queensland
- GPS Coordinates: -27.278281, 151.710176 google maps (exact within the mining complex)
- Status: Operating/ proposed extension
- Production Capacity: 4.8 Mtpa at present intended to increase to 7.5Mtpa
- Total Resource:
- Mineable Reserves: 80.4 million tonnes
- Coal type: Thermal
- Mine Size:
- Mine Type: Surface mine
- Start Year: 2002
- Source of Financing: ANZ, NAB and other lenders have supported the Stage 3 expansion
Articles and resources
- "Acland", New Hope Corporation website, accessed August 2010.
- A New Hope for New Acland, Australian Mining, December 1, 2020
- New Hope Corporation, "EY New Acland Coal Mine Stage 3 Project: Financial Impact Study", 27 September 2017, page 1.
- WA Today, "Approve Darling Downs mine to save jobs: Canavan", 11 September 2019.
- Environmental Law Australia, "New Acland Coal Mine Case", accessed 13 September 2019.
- Mining Monthly, "New Acland expansion gets boost from appeal decision", 12 September 2019.
- Environmental Defenders Office, "AMedia Release: Acland decision shows need for legislative change to protect groundwater", 10 September 2019.
- New Hope Corporation, "Acland", New Hope Corporation website, accessed June 2012.
- Natasha Bita, "Campbell Newman slams farm gate shut on miners", The Australian, March 29, 2012.
- New Hope Corporation, "Quarterly Activities Report: 30 April 2012", May 2012, page 4.
- New Hope Corporation, 2009 Annual Report, New Hope Corporation, page 6.
- Elly Bradfield, New Acland Coal operation under investigation after allegations of illegal mining, ABC Southern QLD, June 17, 2020
- "Funding Climate Failure: How How Australia’s big banks are undermining the Paris Agreement", Market Forces, accessed September 2020
- "New Acland Coal Mine Expansion, Australia", Mining Frontier website, accessed 12 September 2019.