Battle over Colton Mine could head back to court
THE "ping pong" battle between an environmental group and the owners of the proposed Colton Mine looks set to be headed back to court.
Environmentalists from Aldershot and District Against Mining (ADAM) have been in mediation with miner New Hope Group to try to agree conditions that would let the mine proceed without costly court hearings.
But it appears the talks to work out issues around dust and noise monitoring, and water waste, have been fruitless.
ADAM president Brian Linforth had previously been hopeful the matter could be resolved outside of court - and even said he would stop fighting the mine if the company agreed to certain conditions.
But after meetings last week, Mr Linforth said ADAM remains opposed to the mine because of New Hope's lack of movement.
Mr Linforth said he was disappointed with the talks.
"They dug their heels in fairly well," he said.
"We are still playing ping pong.''
The groups will meet again early next month for a directions hearing, the last chance to prevent the fight going back to the Land Court.
"We are hoping to try to get some resolution with things," Mr Linforth said.
"A lot of it relies on Colton (New Hope Group) taking a realistic viewpoint on monitoring of dust and noise."
ADAM now had the view hourly monitoring was necessary.
Mr Linforth said affected residents should have ability to restrict operations if limits were exceeded. "I don't think that's unreasonable to ask," he said.
A New Hope Group spokeswoman said the discussion was ongoing.
"Mediation between the two parties has not concluded," she said.
"New Hope Group is committed to resolving all issues and is seeking a date to continue and conclude mediation.
New Hope respects the court's process and instruction not to comment on specific issues before it outside the court and/or scheduled mediation discussions."
Mr Linforth said Fraser Coast residents were becoming more aware about the effect a mine in their backyard may have.
"There's a ground-swell here but let's hope it's not rising too late for us to benefit from it," he said.
"We are coming to the end of a seven-year saga."
A poll on the Chronicle's website found 46% of people think the coal mine will have a positive impact on the Coast's economy while 25% said it would affect the environment too much.
About 25% were happy to see it built if environmental conditions were met.