New Acland Coal, a subsidiary of the New Hope Group, has allegedly breached the conditions of its federal approval to mine for coal at Acland in Queensland, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) revealed today.
ACF has written to Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley asking her Department to investigate the matter and take enforcement action under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, if it finds the law has been broken.
ACF’s letter to Minister Ley sets out how New Acland Coal has mined a new pit, known as “West Pit”, which is outside the mine footprints that were applied for, assessed and approved under the mine’s Stage 2 and Stage 3 EPBC Act approvals.
The Oakey Coal Action Alliance was recently successful in its application to have the High Court of Australia hear its case on New Hope’s expansion plans.
“New Hope’s coal mine has been dividing communities and wrecking prime farmland on Queensland’s Darling Downs for 20 years,” said ACF campaigner Christian Slattery.
“Now it appears New Hope has been mining coal where it is has no approval to mine and profited from this mining. Satellite images appear to show the company has dug an open cut coal pit a-kilometre long beyond the limits of its approval.
“New Hope is trying to get Queensland Government approval to massively extend its mine so it can keep digging coal for many more years.
“With climate change making some parts of Australia unviable for farming, we need to protect our prime farmland – not let it be turned into climate-destroying open cut coal mines.
“Australian coal damages the climate, whether it is burned in power stations here, or exported to be burned overseas.
“Since New Hope has been digging coal in the Darling Downs, communities have been torn apart, precious groundwater has been drained and some of Australia’s best agricultural land has been dug up and ruined, along with the jobs the land sustained.
“We understand Minister Ley has referred these allegations for investigation by her Department. The Environment Department must be resourced properly to ensure companies are acting within the law.
“ACF expects enforcement action to be taken as necessary to protect the environment.”