Claims by environmental groups that New Acland engaged in illegal drilling are entirely misleading.
Claims by environmental groups that New Acland engaged in illegal drilling are entirely misleading. New Hope Chief Development Officer, Ben Armitage said the company received and paid a fine more than 12 months ago as a result of a minor technicality in respect of overly prescriptive reporting requirements that have now been repealed. "In our plan of operations, which is submitted to the State Government, New Acland advised that exploration would be conducted within the confines of the mining lease and completely within our legal rights," Mr Armitage said. "This reporting was done well in advance of any work being carried out. When the activities took place the drill holes were drilled in slightly different positions but still well within our mining lease. "As a result, the Department issued a fine which was commensurate with what is, in effect, a technical inconsistency with the reporting. It has never been suggested that New Acland was not entitled to conduct the exploration activities." "Importantly, there was no negative impact to the environment caused by this drilling. Mr Armitage said the company is more focused on the future of the mine with 150 employees facing redundancies within two months if approvals for Stage 3 are not obtained by September 1. And, with the future of the New Acland mine in the balance, local businesses are also fearful of their futures. Coops Queensland provides construction, earthworks and maintenance services to New Hope and is just one local business facing a bleak future. Founder and owner Dave Cooper said 80 per cent of his business comes from New Hope. "The New Acland Mine is the backbone of the community and the backbone of my business," Dave said. "They fund local initiatives, help social groups, support the local hospital and fire brigade. "I can't think of one organisation in the region that isn't better as a result of New Hope and the New Acland Mine. "I employ 32 locals, and the uncertainty is killing them because I can't guarantee they'll have jobs at Christmas. "If the State Government doesn't approve the expansion of Stage 3, I'll have to leave Oakey and relocate to a centre with a future. "I grew up in the area and have three children and two grandchildren who live nearby. The last thing I want to do is leave Oakey. "The Premier needs to understand the overwhelming majority of people want the State Government to approve the expansion of New Acland Mine." (ends)