Groups mount challenge over 'reckless' new coal mine

Conservation groups are going to court in a bid to derail a new Queensland coalmine that will aggravate global warming for at least 30 years.

The Australian Conservation Foundation and Mackay Conservation Group are seeking to convince the Queensland Land Court that Whitehaven Coal's proposed mine will be a reckless contributor to climate change.

Whitehaven is pushing ahead with its proposed Winchester South thermal and metallurgical coalmine, in central Queensland's Bowen Basin.

Every year, for 30 years, the mine will produce up to 17 million tonnes of the fossil fuel for the international market.

The conservation groups warn the mine will generate at least 583 million tonnes of climate pollution over its life - more than the whole of Australia produced in 2022.

They also say it will destroy at least 2000 hectares of wildlife habitat used by endangered and threatened species including koalas and greater gliders, and will have unacceptable impacts on water resources.

ACF chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy says Whitehaven has a history of breaching  environmental regulations and a record of drastically underestimating emissions from its coalmines.

Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O'Shanassy
Kelly O'Shanassy accuses Whitehaven of underestimating emissions from its coalmines.

"At its Maules Creek coal mine, reported emissions were four times what Whitehaven estimated in its documentation when seeking government approval. 

"At the Narrabri coal mine, Whitehaven’s actual emissions were more than twice what it officially estimated."

The Mackay Conservation Group's climate campaigner says coal has to stay in the ground to protect people and the environment from the worst effects of climate change.

"There’s no amount of money that will be able to restore the damage this mine will do to our groundwater, the reef or the ongoing negative impact it will have on our region," Imogen Lindenberg said.

aerial photo of the Maules Creek coal mine
Operations at the Maules Creek coalmine have been hampered by years of protests and legal action.

The Environmental Defenders Office will represent the two groups in court. A hearing date is yet to be set.

The Queensland government gave the project the green light earlier this year but it still needs federal approval.

A win in court will not necessarily change the Queensland government's position, with Land Court rulings coming in the form of recommendations to key decision makers.

But Queensland authorities have historically acted in accordance with Land Court recommendations.

Whitehaven Coal says the mine will deliver significant benefits for Queensland and its international trading partners.

It says it has worked hard to develop a final design that seeks to avoid, minimise or offset environmental and other impacts.

And it points to a greenhouse gas management and abatement plan that outlines proposed measures to minimise and avoid scope one and two emissions.

However, that won't cover emissions that are generated when coal from the mine is burnt overseas.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store