This case involved an objection against the Wandoan Coal Mine, a major open-cut coal mine proposed to operate for 35 years in the Surat Basin of Queensland.
The mine was part of the Wandoan Coal Project proposed in 2007 by Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd and its joint venturers (taken over by Swiss mining gaint Glencore in 2013). It was proposed to be located west of the township of Wandoan, approximately 350 km northwest of Brisbane and 60 km south of Taroom.
The thermal coal deposits for the mine were estimated to be in excess of 1.2 billion tonnes and are located within three mining lease applications covering approximately 32,000 hectares.
Consultants for the applicants prepared an environmental impact statement that calculated that the mining and use of the coal would produce 1.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases.
The Friends of the Earth – Brisbane Co-Op Ltd (FOE), a conservation group, lodged an objection to the mine due to the contribution its emissions will make to climate change and ocean acidification.
Neighbouring landholders also objected to the mine due to noise, dust, groundwater and other issues; however, these objections are not the focus here.
The objection by FOE and other objections by neighbouring farmers was heard by the Land Court of Queensland in Brisbane, from 22 August – 31 August 2011.
The Court dismissed FOE’s objection and recommended that the mining lease and environmental authority be granted. Some changes were recommended to address concerns raised by the landholders.
FOE appealed the decision to the Land Appeal Court but discontinued the appeal before a decision was reached.
Mining application & EIS documents
- Application for a mining lease and an environmental authority.
- Location map of the mine.
- Mine layout plan and 30-year mining schedule. The proposed mine has 14 pits, several 5km x 5km in area, and is approximately 30km east to west and 20km north to south. The pits will go to around 70m in depth.
- Initial Advice Statement by Xstrata seeking declaration that mine is a significant project.
- Declaration that the mine was a significant project by the Coordinator-General.
- Terms of reference for EIS.
- Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), including calculation of the greenhouse gases to be produced by the mine in Chapter 14 of Volume 1 and an attached technical report available here.
- Supplementary EIS for the mine.
- Coordinator-General’s report (attaching a draft environmental authority (mining lease)).
Objection by FOE
- Objection lodged by FOE.
- Directions made by the Land Court setting out the steps leading up to the objections hearing on 22 August – 2 September 2011.
- Request for Further and Better Particulars by Xstratra.
- Response to Request for Further and Better Particulars by FOE.
Xstrata climate change expert reports
- Mr Jonathan Stanford report on policy & economics (Exhibit 77).
- Mr William Simes report on coal supply (Exhibit 75).
- Dr Chris Taylor report on GHG emissions (Exhibit 81).
- Cassandra McCarthy affidavit on research by the Xstrata Group into carbon capture and storage (Exhibit 47).
FOE climate change expert reports
- Professor Ian Lowe report on climate science [without attachments due to file size] (Exhibit 102).
- Dr Malte Meinshausen report on the contribution of the Wandoan Coal Mine to climate change and ocean acidification [without attachments to respect copyright] (Exhibit 103).
- Professor Ove Heogh-Guldberg report on impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on the Great Barrier Reef [without attachments to respect copyright] (Exhibit 104).
- Mr Hans Hoegh-Guldberg report on economic impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef (Exhibit 105).
Xstrata supplementary climate change reports
- Jonathan Stanford supplementary report (Exhibit 78).
- William Simes supplementary report (Exhibit 76).
Submissions & trial decision
- Closing submissions by FOE.
- Decision recommending approval: Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd & Ors v Friends of the Earth – Brisbane Co-Op Ltd & Ors, and Department of Environment and Resource Management  QLC 013
- Decision refusing application for costs by Xstrata against FoE: Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd & Ors v. Friends of the Earth – Brisbane Co-Op Ltd (No 2)  QLC 67
Appeal to Land Appeal Court
- Notice of Appeal filed by FOE (later discontinued before a decision was reached, therefore, the appeal ended).
Approvals issued for mine
- Environmental authority issued for the mine in August 2012
- Mining lease for the mine [not yet issued]
Postscript on mine
In November 2012 the future of the mine was in doubt due to market conditions.
In March 2013 the mine was reported to be even less likely to proceed due to the risk of the project and market conditions.
In September 2013 the mine was reported to have been placed on indefinite hold due to market conditions and the business risks involved in proceeding.