Landholders ticked off

Drilling rigs searching for coal on Linc Energy’s Teresa Coal mining tenement 17km north of Emerald.
Drilling rigs searching for coal on Linc Energy’s Teresa Coal mining tenement 17km north of Emerald.

THE resource company that wished to develop an underground coal mine 17km north of Emerald has hit back at landholders' claims recent community information sessions were aimed at "ticking a public consultation box" along the road to selling the asset.

Linc Energy is in the early stages of developing an Environmental Impact Statement for its Teresa Coal Project. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the company held community information sessions in Emerald and Capella.

But some landholders said they left no wiser than they arrived, and were angered that the Linc Project Team was unable to answer their "basic" questions.

Paul Murphy runs a certified organic farm at Kevricia on Lillyvale Rd, north of Emerald. He has lived there for 31 years and has two teenage children who are "dead keen" on farming. The Teresa Coal mine tenement runs through his land.

"They told us nothing really, they couldn't offer us a thing when it came to our questions," Mr Murphy said.

"There were quite a few of us asking questions, and it just got ridiculous in the end, we were dumbfounded… They promised that we would be able to meet with the project team and ask project-related questions.

"It was as though they were just there to tick a box that says they've done public consultation, even though they didn't answer a single one of our questions."

Linc Energy denied the claims in a statement yesterday, which said the project was in the very early stages of development - currently the draft Terms of Reference stage - with more detailed information and answers available as things progress.

"The Terms of Reference document outlines the methodologies for the environmental and social studies that will be completed over the next 12 months as part of the EIS process," the statement said.

"Linc Energy provided currently available information as detailed mine plans and layouts will be available at a later stage and will be prepared in light of the EIS findings."

As studies have not been completed, only conceptual, high-information could be presented, it said.

Mr Murphy said he was currently involved in "heated discussions" with Linc Energy, who he said wanted to drill exploration holes on his land.

He said the fact the company was currently looking to sell the project only added to landholders' feelings of mistrust when it came to the company's claim of looking after their concerns.

"They even tried to sell it all off as unimproved pastoral land, there are patches of some of the best country around up here, I run a fully certified organic farm," Mr Murphy said.

"They're just looking to sell it off, and by developing it quickly they are adding value to the asset… whatever the case, those meetings should not pass as public consultation."

He said there needed to be more policing of how the mining industry conducted public consultation and dealt with landholders on an individual basis, which he said could often be divisive.

Yesterday Linc Energy said at the current time it could not confirm if the mine would be operated by the owner or a contract miner.

But in an ASX announcement in August, the company confirmed the Teresa Coal sale process was in the final stage of negotiations and had been narrowed down to four final candidates.

It said the company's ongoing development work "continues to add value to the Teresa coal asset".

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