Court rejects Gina- Indian Galilee Coal Mine

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By News Desk
Brisbane, 08 April: Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Coal and Indian GVK’s Alpha Coal Project was given a blow today by the Land Court of Queensland. The coal mine proposed to be built in west Central Queensland Galilee Basin was rejected for approval in the alternative by the presiding Member Smith.

“The court has upheld people’s concerns about the impact on farming, the water resources of the region”, said Derec Davies of Coast and Country.
The Alpha coal mine was the most advanced of the proposals for mining in the Galilee Basin. Local farmers and conservation group Coast and Country Association of Queensland challenged the approval of the proposed multi-billion dollar mine in 2013.

“This is a landmark win for Queensland. We have stood up to the international mining industry and won, albeit partial. If the company wants to progress its proposal it must go away and do more homework”, said Davies.

“The judge stated in court the mine approval be refused. Member Smith went on to clarify the final decision will be in the hands of Ministers in relation to the requirements under the Water Act, and more specifically to the application of the precautionary principle and the need to ensure the water resource is projected”, said Derec Davies.

“Our concern now is what the Queensland Government will do. This judgment of the Land Court will give recommendations to the Queensland Government’s Natural Resources and Mines Minister, Andrew Cripps, and Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Andrew Powell who may disregard the court”,

“This is a win for everyone who wants to breathe clean air, have clean water, cares about Australian agriculture and our climate. We call upon Minister Cripps and Minister Powell to stand by the court’s decision. If Queensland is an open market, the judge has ruled this mine is too costly for Queensland.”

“Today’s decision in relation to climate change is disappointing, and not just a reflection on the climate case before the Court, but of the laws which it was judged within, which are simply too
weak to protect Queensland from the fossil fuel industry”, said Davies.

“We are disappointed that a multi-national company’s role in causing dangerous climate change has not been fettered and we are disappointed that we do not have the laws and regulations in Australia that will protect us”,

“Each year the mine will produce as much annual carbon emissions as 3.54 million Queensland households or roughly 82% of Queensland’s population. This company have been approved to pollute each year the carbon emissions equal to 10.91% of Australia’s total annual emissions. This has been granted with the full knowledge of the current International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports on climate change”, said Davies.

“The impacts of climate change will include: loss of biodiversity in Great Barrier Reef by 2020, water insecurity in southern and eastern Australia by 2030, and decline in agricultural production projected due to fire and drought by 2030”,

“We need to keep fighting to stop dangerous climate change which requires 80 per cent of fossil fuels to stay in the ground”, said Derec Davies.

“The court has acknowledged that this mine cut corners when it comes to our precious water supplies”, said Davies

“The scale of the proposed mine was enormous, the strike length and width of the mining footprint would have been 24 km by 7 km. If approved the mine would permanently remove 176 Giga litres of water from the region that would have flowed into the Burdekin River basin and the Great Barrier

“To put this into perspective this is equivalent to 70,400 Olympic swimming pools (2,500,000 L) of fresh water. Based on the company’s reports, this mine would create a funnelling water drawdown cone dropping groundwater levels of 5m or greater may be experienced at distances up to 20 km from the open mine pit”,

“The court today has made a great decision for local farmers. At the end of the mine’s life the
remaining final hole in the ground, 24km in length, would permanently intercept a substantial amount, if not a majority, of the region’s groundwater. The court today has made a great decision for local farmers. Groundwater is a primary source of water for families and farms in the area, many properties rely almost entirely on this water”, said Davies.

“This is a David against Goliath moment in the fight for our country’s precious water. Australia is one of the driest countries in the world and we can’t afford to have foreign companies destroying our ground water aquifers”, said Davies.

“We don’t expect this to be over just yet. This is a multi-billion dollar project and the Indian owned GVK Hancock will surely appeal the court decision”.

“The court has clearly started that given the unsatisfactory nature of the evidence related to groundwater it is not in the public interest to approve the mine”

“The company is now required to seek a water license in relation to the Water Act. Minister Cripps may intervene on behalf of the company, disregard the court and approve the mine. Following the courts decision we hope this is not the case”

“The Alpha Coal Project mine would have deliver a minuet $207 million per year back to the State as royalty tax. The company is 79% foreign owed by the Indian company GVK, which means 79% of the profits go overseas. If developed the damage to the local landscape, environment, the climate and ground water would be irreversible,” said Davies.

“Today is a great day. The court has upheld people’s concerns about the impact on farming, and protection of our water resources. We have stood up to an international miner and won. At this point – The Galilee basin is a No-go for GVK Hancock’s Alpha mine”, said Derec Davies.

- SAT News Service

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