Alpha coal mine one step closer after court ruling

THOUSANDS of Galilee Basin jobs were a step closer to being secured yesterday when a court ruled in favour of Gina Rinehart's GVK Hancock Alpha mine, giving the project a green light.

Environmental group Coast and Country lost its Brisbane Supreme Court battle calling for a review into the decision to approve the mine.

The group has also been ordered to pay the mining company's legal costs.

The Alpha Coal project is expected to create 5000 jobs during its three-year construction and more than 2000 long-term jobs.

It has not yet received a mining lease.

The state's Land Court previously found the mine should go ahead with strict conditions but Coast and Country took this to the higher court arguing this decision was wrong.

One of the Land Court's findings was the mine would not increase global greenhouse gas emissions because coal would just get sourced elsewhere, regardless of whether the mine went ahead.

The environmental group argued this was legally incorrect.

But Supreme Court James Douglas said in his judgment that the Land Court judge was able to make this decision.

He said it was a decision that was logically available "…and within (the Land Court judge's) fact finding powers on the basis that, if global emissions are not increased, then there is no impact that constitutes or causes environmental harm".

Coast and Country also argued the Land Court did not have the power to give the mine a green light with recommendations.

But Justice Douglas found this was allowed.

After handing down his decision Justice Douglas said it was "premature" for Coast and Country to bring the court action forward.

"… Only recommendations were made by the Land Court where there was no obligation for the ministers to follow the recommendations," he said.

Coast and Country have 28 days to appeal the decision.

Topics:  alpha coal mine coal court environment galilee basin

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