Environmental Law Australia

Wandoan Coal Mine case

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.

Key documents

Mining application & EIS documents

Objection by FOE

Xstrata climate change expert reports

FOE climate change expert reports

Xstrata supplementary climate change reports

Submissions & trial decision

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

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.