Blair Athol Mine
Blair Athol Mine MCP

Green group's mine challenge is facing its own challenge

A SOUTHERN Queensland-based green group has argued in court it was "adversely affected" when the Queensland Government declared a central Queensland mine would cost $5 million less to rehabilitate than previously thought.

Lock the Gate applied in the Brisbane Supreme Court for the government to be forced to reveal its reasons for declaring it would cost about $74 million to rehabilitate the Blair Athol mine in central Queensland.

The group argued this was a reduction of about $5 million from previous rehabilitation estimates.

Lock the Gate lawyer Jennifer Hewson said this reduction allowed mine owner Orion, who bought the mine from Rio Tinto for $1, to begin mining operations.

But Lock the Gate could not lodge the application unless it proved the government's decision had "adversely affected" the group.

Ms Hewson told the court Lock the Gate qualified as an "adversely effected" entity as it had invested time and money in environmental protection and advocacy.

But Justice Helen Bowskill said there was "something uncomfortable" about a group being able to "make themselves adversely affected" when they were just interested.

Ms Hewson agreed being adversely affected had to be more than simply "intellectual or emotional concern".

Lock the Gate was established to fight against coal seam gas developments in southwest Queensland.

Barrister for the government, Matthew Hickey, said financial assurance did not impact Lock the Gate any more than a member of the general public and the green group did not meet legal requirements to be granted the reasons for the decision.

"It is not sufficient for a person developing an interest in something to elevate itself to having a standing in something like this," he said.

Mr Hickey said the government consulted with five other environmental groups, including the Queensland Conservation Council, on the matter of rehabilitation cost.

Justice Bowskill will release her decision at a later date.

News Corp Australia


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