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Queensland mine disputes facing red light

Andrew Cripps, Minister for Natural Resources and Mines. Photo Photo Jim Campbell / Chinchilla News
Andrew Cripps, Minister for Natural Resources and Mines. Photo Photo Jim Campbell / Chinchilla News Jim Campbell

GREEN groups will no longer be able to mount a final fight against new Queensland mines if the state goes ahead with a suite of new proposed laws.

Only land-owners directly affected by new mining or gas projects would be able to challenge mining leases, although community groups could launch challenges in the earlier stages of the approval process.

Mines Minister Andrew Cripps on Tuesday unveiled the proposed changes.

Mr Cripps said "extreme greens" from interstate and overseas were fighting proposed mines in court as part of a larger strategy to bog down the coal industry.

"These individuals or groups have little or no interest in our state and submit vexatious objections to tie up economically beneficial projects," he said.

The Environment Defenders' Office Queensland senior solicitor Sean Ryan said courts were already able to dismiss frivolous cases but often allowed these challenges to go ahead because they had a basis in law.

"This also concerns Queensland's coal so there is a public interest in discussing whether the development of that coal is appropriate," Mr Ryan said.

The EDO Queensland is a not-for-profit law firm which takes on clients who are fighting to protect the environment.

Alpha Mine developers GVK Hancock Coal backed the government's proposals, saying they would give "certainty" to land-owners and the industry.

"We fully support the rights of any local landholder to use court processes, this is why court processes exist," a GVK spokesman said.

Alpha is one of the first mines likely to be built west of Rockhampton and Mackay in the emerging Galilee Basin - it is in the midst of a legal challenge from landholders and environmental groups.

The government is taking submissions on the proposed changes until March 28, with the laws to be installed as soon as possible.

See http://www.bit.do/mines.


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