A New Acland coal mine pit is progressing in a southerly direction.
A New Acland coal mine pit is progressing in a southerly direction. Stuart Cumming

Expansion of mine reduces labour force

THE agriculture, construction and electricity industries in Toowoomba may employ fewer people if the New Acland coal mine expansion goes ahead, a court has heard.

The Queensland Land Court on Friday heard that jobs figures from economist Dr Jerome Fahrer showed the mine would create a peak of about 680 jobs, but would lead to less employment in other industries.

The court is hearing a legal challenge to the proposed expansion of the mine. Under cross-examination by barrister for the Environmental Defenders Office Saul Holt, Dr Fahrer said his modelling showed if the mine proceeded it would lead to fewer people being employed in a range of competing industries.

Dr Fahrer, an expert for the miner behind the Acland expansion, New Hope, said the lower employment in those industries would likely be due to a number of factors, including people moving to employment.

"Well, the mine has to get its employees from somewhere," he said.

"It doesn't mean people will lose their jobs. It just means they may be working in the mine rather than another industry."

Dr Fahrer said he believed evaluating a mine on the jobs it would create was "regrettable", and mines should be evaluated on "income and production".

On Friday, he tendered corrected jobs modelling to the court, which increased the number of projected full-time jobs the mine expansion would create, making 680 the new figure.

The court heard he had found an error in the original expert testimony he had provided when lawyers opposing the mine had requested a jobs breakdown.

But Mr Holt questioned whether an error in the jobs model could jeopardise Dr Fahrer's entire model.



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