Delays amount to 'death by stealth' of mine: Chamber
THE Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce is calling on the State Government to push through outstanding New Acland Coal Mine Stage 3 approvals "as a matter of urgency".
New Acland management told workers on Tuesday that if it was unable to secure its remaining approvals by September 1, it would have to wind down operations and 150 jobs would be cut by the end of October.
It has been 12 years since New Acland owner New Hope first began seeking approvals for the Stage 3 expansion, a process that has been tied up in a series of legal battles.
"What concerns us is the delay in decision making, because really the delay that has gone on in the decision making is effectively death by stealth for the New Acland Coal project," Ms Sheppard said.
"(The chamber) is calling on the State Government to approve the Stage 3 mining lease, the associated water licence and the use of the Jondaryan rail facility as a matter of urgency.
"Push has come to shove and New Hope is in a terrible situation. They're looking down the barrel of 150 people who are potentially going to lose their jobs come October.
"The flow-on effects to the local economy will be significant and the implications are extensive."
Ms Sheppard said if Acland mine was forced to ramp-down its operations it would have a huge impact on the "raft of local businesses" it engages for services and products.
She also pointed to the impact which would be felt right through the regional economy, including families and schools.
"The delay in decision-making has to be addressed because the uncertainty really hasn't been good for anyone," she said.
"I think the bigger issue is this decision-making process hasn't just been over the last six, 12, 18 months. It's been going on for over a decade.
"The bigger issue from a business perspective is that we currently have a system that can allow a decision making process that's as important as this to be tied up in legal battles for over a decade. I think that's concerning from the business community's perspective and I think that's an issue that needs to be addressed."
A spokesman for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister yesterday said the State Government would continue to work with New Hope, noting there were "legal matters on foot that may affect certain considerations".