‘Unacceptable climate change risks’: Court rules against Clive Palmer’s wet coal project in Queensland
- Lawyers say it is the first time a coal mine has been challenged on human rights grounds in Australia.
- Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal is seeking approval for Queensland’s largest thermal coal mine.
- Paula Casoni, co-owner of Bimblebox Nature Refuge, says the decision is a “historic win for nature”.
Clive Palmer’s planned thermal coal mine in Queensland must be rejected because it risks “unacceptable climate change impacts”, a court has found.
Queensland’s Land Court on Friday found in favor of a case against the Palmer-owned Waratah Coal Project in central Queensland’s Galley Basin after a three-year court battle.
The mine is opposed on human rights grounds by the Environmental Defenders Office, Youth Verdict and The Bumble Box Alliance due to its potential contribution to climate change and the destruction of a nearby nature reserve.
Court president Fleur Kingham found that carbon emissions from burning coal mines in the project would “cause environmental damage, including in Queensland”.
It has recommended that the state government reject the mining lease and environmental authority for the Waratah project.
“Finally, I have decided that the climate scenario consistent with a viable mine risks unacceptable impacts of climate change on people and property in Queensland, even though the project is economically and socially taking into account the benefits,” President Kingham said in his decision Friday. .
Uncertain market demand for thermal coal raised the “real possibility” the mine would not remain viable, or provide economic benefits, over its planned life, he said.
Lawyers say the case is the first time an Australian court has heard domestic evidence based on the First Nations Protocol. Queensland Land Court president Flor Kingham (left) hears evidence on May 31, 2022. Source: AAP / Brian Casey
It found that the impact of the mine’s potential reduction on the ecological values of the nearby 8000-hectare Bamblebox Nature Reserve was uncertain and potentially severe.
“The evidence suggests that this refuge will be lost and the ecological values of Bimblebox will be seriously and possibly irreparably damaged,” said President Kingham.
The mine will also unreasonably restrict the human rights of Bimblebox owners, Queenslanders and First Nations people, the order said.
Bimblebox owners’ rights to property, privacy and home will be affected, while associated climate change will limit Queenslanders’ rights to life, property, privacy and home, children’s rights and First Nations people’s cultural rights.
“Having done my best to assess the nature and extent of the limitation caused by the project, I have determined that the limitation is clearly not justified,” President Kingham said.
“For each right, considered individually, I have determined the importance of protecting the right, given the nature and extent of the limitations, the mine’s economic benefits and contribution to energy security for the Southeast. weighs more in the balance than the benefit of putting in. Asia.”
The court also rejected Waratah’s argument that the high-quality thermal coal produced at the mine would displace lower-quality coal projects.
“Ultimately, I have decided to recommend that both applications be denied,” President Kingham said.
The court president cautioned that his decision is a recommendation to the minister and the department, who will make the final decisions on whether to grant the mining lease and the environmental authority.
Paula Casoni, co-owner of Bimblebox Nature Refuge, said the decision was a “historic win for nature”.
“After a 15-year nightmare of fighting this project, today is a day of relief for us. Hopefully, we can now focus entirely on maintaining Bimblebox, with the help of our volunteers,” he said in a statement. Can go back to focus.”