Geoff Potter

Land court to decide on monster-sized coal mine

THE future of a tiny rural outpost in western Queensland will be decided tomorrow as the Land Court considers whether to approve the monster-sized Alpha coal mine.

Environmental campaigners Coast and Country, supported by Queensland's Environmental Defender's Office, fought state and federal approvals already given to the $6.4 billion project.

Challengers argued Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting and Indian energy giants GVK should be accountable for the millions of tonnes in emissions caused by the burning of Alpha's exported coal.

Objectors included nearby landholders fearful their underground water supplies could be affected by the mine.

If built, the company expects to recruit about 7500 workers for its construction and 4000 for operations.'

The towns of Jericho and Alpha, with their combined population of 3500, will be transformed.

Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler has previously said it would help the area win desperately-needed basics, including a local doctor and ambulance.

GVK Hancock is just one of at least five major players, including magnate Clive Palmer, which are pushing to exploit the coal province.

Each will be watching today's verdict.

Coast and Country believes this challenge to be one of the largest of its kind in the state's history.

Coast and Country's Derec Davies said a win for GVK Hancock would "be felt by local farmers and every Queenslander for hundreds of years".

"This project will have dangerous impacts on the climate.

"Every Queenslander should be concerned about the potential approval of this mega mine."

A GVK Hancock spokesman said a project of Alpha's size had not been seen in Queensland "for decades".

Alpha had a "comprehenesive environmental assessment" and its results are available publicly.

He said the company would continue to work with landholders, the community and governments as it prepares to  start construction.

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