Minister for Environment Andrew Powell
Minister for Environment Andrew Powell Chris Ison

Wandoan farmers take on Qld in court over mine project

THE future of the Southern Hemisphere's largest coal mine could rest on the outcome of a challenge mounted by a handful of Wandoan farmers who will take the state to court on Friday.

The five south-west Queensland families - adding up to eight applicants - are taking on Minister for Environment Andrew Powell over his granting of an environmental approval to mining giant Xstrata to develop the project.

The Wandoan Mine would consume 30,000ha of agricultural land in the township about 350km northwest of Brisbane, mining 30 million tonnes of coal per year for three decades.

Xstrata estimated the mine would deliver up to $12 billion to the region in this period.

The site would be connected to a yet-to-be-built rail line, carrying the minerals to Gladstone for export.

Those challenging the project are not tackling the miner itself, but Mr Powell.

It is understood their case would likely focus on recommendations made by the Land Court of Queensland after a 2011 fight with the mine.

In particular, the team will hope to raise concerns as to the fate and security of groundwater on their properties.

These five families are the few who resisted selling their properties which fell either inside or on the outskirts of the project's boundaries.

Up to 41 others sold out and moved on.Friday will be the directions hearing, giving guidance on how the case will proceed.

Mr Powell told APN the Environmental Approval for the Wandoan Mine was based on the Land Court's decision, backed up by his department to address the court's findings.

He said he could not comment further as it was currently in front of the courts.

Solicitors for the farmers declined to comment on the upcoming court case.