Major job losses expected at New Acland within months
Union officials are expecting heavy job losses at the New Acland Coal Mine by April or May, as the mine contends with the possibility of being back at square one in terms of its Stage 3 expansion approvals process.
In a massive win for the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, The High Court yesterday ordered New Acland’s applications for mining leases and an amended environmental authority be sent back to the Queensland Land Court for a fresh hearing.
OCAA successfully argued the Court of Appeal’s 2019 finding that an earlier Land Court decision was affected by an apprehension of bias impacted OCAA and NAC unequally.
In a 5-0 decision, the High Court Justices found the arguments advanced by New Acland were “insufficient to justify the highly exceptional course of this court refusing a re-hearing for a party whose hearing was decided other than independently and impartially”.
“Indeed, it cannot be said that Oakey Coal Action has ‘had its day in court’ or had lost all of its grounds before an independent and impartial tribunal.”
The Land Court has already set down a directions hearing for February 11, where OCAA and New Acland are expected to put forward their arguments as to what the scope of the fresh hearing should be.
But all of that was cold comfort to the workers at the mine yesterday.
“Obviously, everyone here on site is gutted,” Michael Hartin said.
Mr Hartin, a Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union representative, said it would be a devastating loss to the local community for people to lose their jobs.
He said while the formal process was yet to begin, the union was anticipating “heavy job losses by April or May”.
Going back to the Land Court means the whole legal process resets.
If the Land Court recommends the approval of the mining leases and environmental authority, it would be within the remit of OCAA to lodge an appeal.
Without the Stage 3 expansion, New Acland will run out of coal by the end of the year, as it winds down its operations further.
The company has already made roughly 280 people across its head office and Acland mine site redundant since October 2019.
Parent company New Hope Group is seeking an urgent meeting with the State Government to discuss a way forward for the mine.
Originally published as Major job losses expected at New Acland within months