The Queensland Land Court has ruled that human rights would be unjustifiably restricted by a proposal to dig the state’s largest coal mine in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland.
- The proposed coal mine would have been Queensland’s largest thermal coal mine
- This is the first time a group has successfully argued that mined coal would affect human rights by contributing to climate change
- Queensland Land Court president Fleur Kingham ruled that preserving human rights outweighed economic benefits
First Nations-led activist group Youth Verdict challenged an application by mining company Waratah Coal, owned by billionaire Clive Palmer.
The group of young Queensland activists challenged the mine on the grounds that it would affect the human rights of First Nations people by contributes to climate change.
The coal mine would remove about 40 million tons of coal per year for export to Southeast Asia, with an expected life of 30 years.
It is the first time a group has successfully argued that coal from a mine would affect human rights by contributing to climate change.
Queensland Land Court president Fleur Kingham said she would not recommend Waratah Coal’s application for a mining lease and environmental approval.
She told the court that the mine unjustifiably limited the right to life, cultural rights of First Nations people, children’s rights, the right to property, privacy and home and the right to enjoy human rights on an equal footing.
“The importance of preserving the rights weighs more heavily in the balance between the economic benefits of the mine and the benefits of contributing to energy security for Southeast Asia,” she said.
Waratah had claimed the Galilee Coal Project would contribute $2.5 billion in economic benefits over its 30-year life.
“With declining demand for thermal coal, there is a real prospect that the mine will not be viable throughout its life expectancy and not all of the economic benefits will be realised,” Kingham said.
“The cost of climate change to people in Queensland has not been fully accounted for, nor has the environmental cost of mining.”
Environmentalists welcomed the decision, which they said would have “far-reaching implications” for plans to build future coal mines in Queensland.
“We hope today’s decision will mean other coal mining companies will think twice before trying to force new climate-destroying proposals on Queenslanders,” Central Queensland Environmental Advocacy director Coral Rowston said.
The decision to grant the mining lease application now rests with Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart.
The decision to grant environmental approval is the final responsibility of Queensland Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon.