Alliance's fight over coal mine costs goes up in smoke

Lock the Gate QLD projects co-ordinator Ellie Smith says her group is disappointed at the decision about Blair Athol.
Lock the Gate QLD projects co-ordinator Ellie Smith says her group is disappointed at the decision about Blair Athol. John Weekes

DISPUTES over the transfer and rehabilitation of a coal mine have ended in a setback for a conservation alliance.

Lock the Gate has been battling the Queensland Government over the Blair Athol mine in the Bowen Basin.

The alliance said it was "disappointed” after two applications to Brisbane Supreme Court were dismissed on Thursday.

The mine was mothballed in 2012.

But last year, TerraCom bought the mine from much bigger company Rio Tinto for $1 and returned it to operation.

Lock the Gate wanted the Government to reveal information about the transfer and costs of rehabilitating the mine.

The alliance also wanted to know the Government's reasons for declaring it would cost about $74 million to rehabilitate Blair Athol.

Lock the Gate said that was about $5 million less than earlier estimates.

Earlier this month, barrister for the government Matthew Hickey said financial assurance did not impact Lock the Gate any more than a member of the general public.

And Mr Hickey said the alliance did not meet legal requirements to be given reasons for the decision.

On Thursday, Justice Helen Bowskill decided the decision to give indicative approval for the mining lease transfer did not affect Lock the Gate's interests.

So Lock the Gate was not entitled to request a statement of reasons for the decision, Justice Bowskill found.

She dismissed an application made under the Mineral Resources Act and another under the Environmental Protection Act.

"We're disappointed in the decisions of today,” Lock the Gate Queensland projects co-ordinator Ellie Smith said outside court.

"We'll be looking at whether or not there are any grounds for appeal.”

Lock the Gate previously voiced concerns Queensland taxpayers would be at risk of having to pay for any outstanding rehabilitation required.

The alliance made several requests about the mine's transfer to TerraCom.

Justice Bowskill said these earlier requests were refused because Lock the Gate's activities did not "not rise to the level of an interest that is adversely affected by a decision about the potential transfer of an existing mining lease from one entity to another”. -NewsRegional

Topics:  blair athol blair athol coal mine bowen basin brisbane court coal lock the gate mineral resources act mining rio tinto terracom

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