Queensland’s Land Court has made an unusual ruling that the state government either reject a mega-mine or grant the lease and impose conditions.
A multi-billion dollar coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin should only go-ahead if a number of conditions are met, the state’s land court has ruled.
The non-binding recommendations were made to the state government on Tuesday after a bid by six parties to stop the Alpha Mine, part owned by Gina Rinehart.
They argued the mine would contribute to climate change and have “permanent and irreversible” effects on ground water.
Queensland Land Court member Paul Smith recommended the mine be rejected or further conditions imposed.
They include obtaining licences to use ground water, monitoring and compensation for landholders.
It is now up to the state government to decide which, if any, of the recommendations are imposed.
As the ruling outlines options to both reject and grant the mine lease, both the developers and the landholders are crying victory.
Paola Cassoni, whose land adjoins the proposed lease, said the court’s decision vindicated the community’s “grave concerns”.
A report commissioned by lobby group Lock the Gate found that the water table would be reduced by five metres if all the nine mines proposed for the basin are approved.
That’s equivalent to 525 years of livestock and domestic water supplies for the area, the report said.
GVK Hancock however is claiming victory and says the recommendations “endorsed” the environmental assessments carried out by the company.
And, Queensland Resources Council boss Michael Roche says the decision to “uphold” the approval means the basin will be finally opened for business.
The project is estimated to generate 4000 full-time positions and contribute about $40 billion in royalties and taxes during its lifetime, he said.
The Australian Greens are calling on the Queensland government to put the climate ahead of Gina Rinehart.
“The court’s decision proves that it’s high time we change our environmental laws so that this kind of climate destruction cannot be given the green light,” Senator Larissa Waters said.