March 26, 2013
The Coordinator-General has finalised the terms of reference for the New Acland Coal Mine Stage 3 project, clearing the way for New Hope Coal to prepare a new environmental impact statement (EIS) for the scaled-down proposal.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the new EIS would replace the one issued by New Hope in 2007 which had been dramatically reduced in size due to the government’s concerns.
“The revised expansion of the existing New Acland open-cut coal mine will significantly reduce its impact on agricultural land and local communities,” Mr Seeney said.
“It differs from the original proposal in that mining over the town of Acland is no longer proposed, Lagoon Creek would not be diverted, the Jondaryan rail load-out facility would be moved 8km from the town, and mining would move 10km from Oakey.
“It was decided to offer an extended comment period of nine weeks on the draft terms of reference so the community could fully assess them and comment on New Hope Coal’s modified proposal, which is 2300ha smaller than the original proposal put forward in 2007.”
Mr Seeney said 67 submissions were lodged, which included concerns about strategic cropping land, flooding, groundwater and air and noise impacts.
He said the Coordinator-General had taken these concerns into consideration in revising the terms of reference.
“New Hope Coal must now address the terms of reference in its new EIS as part of the rigorous assessment under State and Commonwealth laws,” he said.
In response to submission comments, the terms of reference now require the EIS to include a strategy to enhance the amenity of the town of Acland.
The proponent will also now need to develop a local stakeholder management plan for residents in the vicinity of the project potentially affected – for example, by air, noise, lighting, blasting, traffic and other impacts.
The LSMP will address impacts management, consultation strategies and complaints resolution for residents affected by the project. It will also show how particular impacts and concerns raised by the residents, and mitigation measures suggested by residents, will be considered and adopted into the plan.
If approved, the $700 million mine expansion is expected to create 220 construction and 570 operational jobs.
New Hope Coal has until March 2015 to submit its EIS to the Coordinator-General.