Australia

Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty. Ltd. & Others v. Friends of the Earth – Brisbane & Others (Queensland Land Court, 2012)

Jurisdiction: Australia


Side A: Sumisho Coal Australia Pty Ltd (Corporation)


Side B: Friends of the Earth - Brisbane Co-Op Ltd, Barry Raymond Rich and Helen Maxine Rich (Individual ngo)


Core objectives: Challenge to approval for the coal mine on the basis that the emissions from the use of the coal would contribute to climate change


Summary
Friends of the Earth and local land owners challenged an mining leases granted under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld) for the development of a new "mega" coal mine in Queensland, Australia, as well as the draft conditions for an environmental authority to operate the mine which were proposed by the relevant Minister under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld). While the claims made by landowners focused on the local impacts of the mine, such as potential water contamination and sound levels, Friends of the Earth argued that the lease and environmental authority should not be granted on the basis that the project will contribute to climate change and ocean acidification. The proponent for the proposed mine, Xstrata Coal, argued that they were under no obligation to disclose the "Scope 3" emissions of project during the environmental impact assessment process. Scope 3 emissions include indirect GHG emissions which occur at sites away from the mine, such emissions from transporting the coal and from its end-use in electricity production. Friends of the Earth argued that these scope 3 emissions must be considered when assessing the potential environmental impact of the mine. The Court held that it could only consider the environmental impacts of the mine itself, and not of other activities such as the transport of coal or its end-use. In addition, it held that while the direct GHG emissions of the mine may contribute to climate change, that this should not outweigh all other considerations in the assessment process for the mine, such as the potential economic benefit to the State of Queensland. The Court recommended that the approvals necessary for the mine be issued.

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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