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

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The Queensland Land Court has ruled human rights would be unjustifiably limited 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 basis that it would impact the human rights of First Nations peoples by contributing to climate change.

The coal mine would remove about 40 million tons of coal a year for export to South-East Asia, with a forecast life span of 30 years.

It’s the first time a group has successfully argued that coal from a mine would impact human rights by contributing to climate change.

Queensland Land Court president Fleur Kingham said she would not be recommending Waratah Coal’s application for a mining lease and environmental approval to be granted.

She told the court that mine unjustifiably limited the right to life, cultural rights of First Nations peoples, the rights of children, the rights to property, privacy and home and the right to enjoy human rights equally.

“The importance of preserving the rights weighs more heavily in the balance of the economic benefits of the mine and the benefits of contributing energy security for South-East Asia,” she said.

The Queensland Land Court traveled to the Torres Strait Islands to hear how climate change was impacting First Nations communities.(Supplied: Youth Verdict)

Waratah had argued that the Galilee Coal Project would contribute $2.5 billion in economic benefits over its 30-year life span.

“With declining demand for thermal coal, there is a real prospect the mine will not be viable throughout its projected life and not all the economic benefits will be realized,” Ms Kingham said.

“The costs of climate change to people in Queensland have not been fully accounted for, nor have the environmental costs of the act of mining.”


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