Govt to legislate to ensure coal mine’s future

Published Friday, 12 October, 2007 at 03:41 PM


Minister for Mines and Energy
The Honourable Geoff Wilson

The Honourable Anna Bligh

The State Government will legislate next week to guarantee operations at Xstrata’s Wollombi operations near Moranbah, Premier Anna Bligh said today.

This action comes in response to today’s court ruling that, on a legal technicality, could have stalled the mine’s further development.

“We will protect the mine’s 190 jobs and the investment in the mine,” said the Premier.

“The coal industry is central to the Queensland economy and we will not allow a technicality to threaten its development and jobs.

“We need to strike the right balance between the needs of the Queensland economy, the environment and the jobs of the 18,500 men and women, and their families, who work in the Queensland coal industry,” Ms Bligh said.

“I am determined that the workers at the mine, as well as its investors, will have certainty that the mine will continue its operations.”

Xstrata operates a major coal mine at Wollombi and the company sought to extend the land covered by its mining lease for a new open-cut coal mine.

The Minister for Mines and Energy granted the extension earlier this year after the Land and Resources Tribunal approved stringent environmental conditions set by the EPA. In reaching its decision the Tribunal rejected additional conditions that the QCC sought to have imposed.

The Queensland Conservation Council appealed the Tribunal’s decision on a procedural point.

In the absence of the QCC seeking to stay the development pending its appeal, Xstrata has spent more than $70 million and engaged 190 people to develop the extension.

The Court of Appeal today upheld QCC’s procedural objections and decided to send the matter back to the Land Court for rehearing, meaning the mine’s development would be significantly delayed or could be stopped all together.

“My government is not prepared to have this uncertainty,” said the Premier.

“Next week we will legislate to validate the mining lease so that the mine can proceed, but only with stringent environmental requirements.”

Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson said: “While we respect the umpire’s decision, we also have an obligation to safeguard our reputation as one of the best and most reliable producers of coal in the world, and the jobs of the 190 Wollombi workers and their families.”

“The resources boom has delivered enormous economic benefits to Queensland. It’s been a magnet for jobs and job security.

Our economic future depends on maintaining the coal industry intact.

The Premier said that the Queensland Government’s commitment to the environment cannot be questioned.

“We have single-handedly delivered Australia’s Kyoto Protocol obligations by banning broad-scale land clearing.

“In addition our Climate Smart 2050 package, launched in June this year, invests $414 million toward protecting our fragile environment.

“However to let the court decision stand would risk our biggest export industry and the government is not prepared to take that risk.

“There is no doubt the coal industry needs to combat greenhouse gas emissions and that is why the government and industry are investing heavily in clean coal technology.

The Queensland Government is also a strong backer of a national emission trading scheme.

We believe that such a scheme is the appropriate way to manage emissions rather than an ad hoc approach which singles out particular companies.”

12 October 2007

Media Inquiries: Premier’s Office 3224 4500
Minister’s Office 3225 1819