Queensland court rejects coal over climate

A Queensland court says Waratah Coal's proposed Galilee coal mine should not go ahead.

A Queensland court says Waratah Coal's proposed Galilee coal mine should not go ahead. Photo: AAP

Clive Palmer’s planned thermal coal mine in Queensland should be rejected because it “risks unacceptable climate change impacts” on the environment and on human rights, a court has found.

The Land Court of Queensland has upheld an objection to the Palmer-owned Waratah Coal’s Galilee project, west of Rockhampton, after a three-year court battle.

The Environmental Defenders Office, on behalf of Youth Verdict and The Bimblebox Alliance, opposed the mine on human rights grounds, arguing it would exacerbate climate change and destroy a nearby nature reserve.

Court President Fleur Kingham found that even though the mine was intended for exports, “wherever the coal is burnt the emissions will contribute to environmental harm, including in Queensland.”

She’s recommended that the government reject a mining lease and an environmental authority for Waratah’s project.

Unacceptable climate change impacts

“In the end, I have decided the climate scenario consistent with a viable mine risks unacceptable climate change impacts to Queensland people and property, even taking into account the economic and social benefits of the project,” President Kingham said in her ruling on Friday.

The mine’s contribution to climate change would also limit the human rights of Queenslanders, including the right to life, property, privacy and home, the rights of children and the cultural rights of First Nations peoples, she found.

“Doing the best I can to assess the nature and extent of the limit due to the project, I have decided the limit is not demonstrably justified,” President Kingham said.

“For each right, considered individually, I have decided the importance of preserving the right, given the nature and extent of the limitation, weighs more heavily in the balance than the economic benefits of the mine and the benefit of contributing to energy security for Southeast Asia.”

Potential impact of mining subsidence uncertain

The court found the potential impact of subsidence from mining under the nearby 8000-hectare Bimblebox Nature Reserve were also uncertain and potentially severe.

“The evidence suggests it is likely the refuge will be lost and the ecological values of Bimblebox seriously and possibly irreversibly damaged,” President Kingham said.

The court president said her ruling was a recommendation to the minister and the department, who would make the final decisions on Waratah’s mining lease and environmental authority.

“The Queensland government will carefully consider the recommendations,” a government spokesperson told AAP on Friday afternoon.

Youth Verdict co-ordinator Murrawah Johnson said she was overjoyed a “western courtroom” had recognised the cultural rights of First Nations peoples.

“Now the government must accept the court’s recommendation and reject Palmer’s Galilee Coal Project approvals,” she said in a statement.

Billionaire Palmer ‘wants to line his pockets’

“Billionaire Clive Palmer wants to line his pockets by building a new coal mine in a time when we must move away from extractive industries that destroy Country and fuel climate change.

“First Nations peoples will not stand by while coal-fuelled climate change destroys our Countries and further threatens our connections to culture.”

EDO managing lawyer Sean Ryan also called on the state government to follow the advice of the court and swiftly reject Waratah’s proposed mine.

“Our clients successfully struck at the heart of the main cause of accelerating climate impacts on their land and sea country, which is coal.

“This win keeps billions of tonnes of carbon stored safely in the ground where it belongs.”


Topics: Clive Palmer
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