Staff from a former mining company, Bandanna Energy, visited the Springsure Creek project site in 2012.
Staff from a former mining company, Bandanna Energy, visited the Springsure Creek project site in 2012. Contributed

Golden Triangle mine: Future not ours to see, court says

THE uncertain future of prized "Golden Triangle" farmland in the sights of a mining project has been mentioned in a new Land Court decision.  

Springsure Creek Coal's proposal near Emerald previously sparked opposition from some landowners in the rich cereal, sunflower and bean-producing region. 

Springsure Creek Coal also argued with landowner Arcturus Downs and the state Government about aspects of the mine's environmental authority (EA) conditions. 

Some legal dispute centred on post-mining land rehabilitation. 

In a decision published on Tuesday, Land Court Member Peta Stilgoe said it was important not to get consumed with speculation about the land's future. 

Arcturus Downs might not own the land in 15 years, Ms Stilgoe said. 

"Perhaps a mining company will own the land [with] less incentive to maintain high quality agricultural land. Perhaps the effects of climate change will render this land less likely to be suitable for broadacre cropping," she added. 

"Perhaps new agricultural techniques will make the land more suitable for broadacre cropping, or even more intensive farming." 

EA conditions existed to preserve the land as it existed when a mining lease started, Ms Stilgoe said. 

One condition had demanded Springsure Creek make a soil conservation management plan before mining started. 

But Springsure Creek said that was unnecessary - because an earlier decision already provided for soil conservation management. 

A similar issue existed with a soil stripping, stockpiling and reinstatement plan. 

Ms Stilgoe agreed with a proposed amendment to remove Springsure's duty to vegetate stockpiles and reduce stockpile heights. 

That was because it was unlikely there would be stockpiles, she said. 

Meanwhile, Springsure Creek agreed land rehabilitation must happen without unnecessary delay, or as soon as possible. 

But the lease date start was still undecided, so the miner objected to demands the rehabilitation happen "in 2068". 

The miner said its requested 30-year lease might one day be extended. 

Ms Stilgoe said the EA would be changed, so that rehabilitation start "progressively as areas become available". 

She also said rehabilitation work must be finished no later than 30 years after the EA is granted. -NewsRegional