Queensland Land Court rules on Clive Palmer’s central Queensland Waratah coal mine in landmark case

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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.

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.

Athe Kapua Gutchen points to the sea
The Queensland Land Court traveled to the Torres Strait Islands to hear how climate change was affecting First Nations communities.(Delivered: Juvenile Justice)

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.”

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