Miners on $896 million expansion: It's our livelihood
MINERS are warning that denying New Hope Group permission for a massive expansion will threaten the livelihoods of people across the Darling Downs.
New Acland miner Matthew Tonscheck was among 700 people who rallied outside Queensland Parliament House on Tuesday calling for the mine to be exempted from proposed groundwater legislation.
New Hope Group has said stage 2 of the mine is due to finish operations next year and if the stage 3 expansion is not approved hundreds of people will lose their jobs.
Mr Tonscheck said the mining operations supported towns far afield from Oakey including Kulpi, Goombungee, Cooyar, Cambooya and Toowoomba.
"I would say within a 70km radius of the mine there are business relying on the mine.
"It's the rural, domestic, clothing businesses - even down to the schools and the local sports clubs, that all benefit from the mine."
Mr Tonscheck said the workers were deeply ingrained in the towns.
"About 90% of the workers are from those areas, or have been there, and it's a natural that they support the local groups."
Critics of the mine have raised environmental concerns about water and damage to strategic cropping land.
Mr Tonscheck said New Hope Group had covered those concerns during the extensive environmental approval process and it had also been challenged in the Land Court.
He called for opponents to be truthful in their criticisms.
"Everyone is entitled to their opinion, just tell the truth.
"I'm all for a fair fight, if there's a fight that's needs to be done but when it comes to cheating, that's not right."
The Oakey Coal Action Alliance was formed in opposition to the expansion when it was first proposed by New Hope Group.
The Chronicle attempted to contact the group's president for comment.
The $896 million stage 3 project will see the existing New Acland open-cut coal mine expand production to up to 7.5 Mtpa.
New Hope Group says it will provide direct jobs for more than 300 locals, 160 contractors, and contribute to 2300 more indirect jobs.