By HARRY CLARKE
THE first coal extracted from New Hope Group’s controversial Stage 3 mine at Acland has coincided with a billion dollar profit and share price surge for the once under-siege coal company, as it now reap rewards following a gruelling, 16-year court battle.
New Hope this week reported a 13 percent dividend yield for shareholders and an after-tax profit nearing $1.1 billion, while the stock exchange price since May has jumped by more than 30 percent to, today, just over $6.
The strong results follow welcome news for many in the Darling Downs region announced last week that coal was now being trucked from New Hope’s Stage 3 pit at Acland, which was approved for development in October 22.
Mining had previously ground to a complete halt amid a challenge by the Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA), first lodged in 2008, to ban Stage 3 on the basis of potential groundwater impact, noise pollution and light pollution.
A stay application by the OACC regarding the mine’s recent approval has since been withdrawn.
“It was a surreal moment to achieve first coal and validates the efforts of so many workers and community leaders, who stood beside New Hope Group as we secured the necessary Stage 3 approvals from the Queensland Government,” said New Acland Mine general manager Dave O’Dwyer (pictured).
“Stage 3 first coal will trigger a significant ramp-up on site and a wave of additional milestones, including first washed coal via the onsite coal handling and processing plant and the first shipment of coal from New Acland Mine to the Port of Brisbane in more than two years.
“There will also be additional job opportunities on site, with at least other 30 full time, permanent employees needed before Christmas.”
New Hope said about 600 local workers would be employed at its Acland mine during peak construction and 400 full time roles would continue for the life of the project.
“Unlike a lot of other mines in Queensland, New Acland Mine does not engage fly-in, fly-out workers, with more than 90 percent of the current workforce living within 50km of the site,” a statement by New Hope said.
“Local workers, contractors and local businesses will benefit to the tune of $1 billion over the life of the New Acland Stage 3 project.”
WATCH: First coal extracted from Acland Stage 3 mine. VISION : New Hope
It’s forecast that 950,000 tonnes of coal will be extracted from New Acland Mine over the current financial year.
Record prices of thermal coal during the second half of 2022 have been attributed to global supply shortage.
Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise CEO Greg Bowden said he was pleased to hear about “coal being shipped out out of the mine and those jobs remaining in the local community”.
“To be able to dig coal at Acland Stage 3 … the jobs and growth that this is creating at the mine has been so great for the community,” Bowden said.
“TSBE has always supported energy. TSBE was formed on the coal seam gas industry and has moved into future industries around the energy sector.
“We are in the transition phase to new and future energies. We’re seeing law makers change direction, but coal right now is still fuelling this country and our domestic markets.
“It’s keeping the lights on … so it’s very important that coal is part of the transition and I’m sure that lawmakers will make future decisions on what that looks like.”