Hancock Coal Pty Ltd. v. Kelly and Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (No. 4)  QLC 12
Land Court of Queensland
This decision concerned the Alpha Coal Project, a large-scale coal mining project proposed by Hancock Coal in the Galilee Basin. The predominant use of land in this area is pastoral, specifically livestock grazing.
Landowners, the Coast and Country Association of Queensland, and the Mackay Conservation Group challenged the proposed mine, arguing that there were significant uncertainties about the impact of mining on groundwater supplies, the mining company improperly refused to conduct a cumulative impacts analysis of all mining operations in the area, and that the project would contribute to climate change.
The Land Court held that it was appropriate to consider the impact that the authorised mining activities would have on groundwater supplies. It found that the mining company's modeling of potential groundwater impacts outside the mining lease area was insufficient. “There are clear environmental concerns regarding this mining project, which is why I am recommending a precautionary approach be undertaken.” Para. 396.
Upon finding that “good reason has been shown for a refusal to grant the mining lease,” the Land Court recommended that the project be refused or, alternatively, strict conditions be imposed to ensure that mining will not affect the landowners' groundwater supplies. Para. 412.