New Hope investors seek net zero plans

·2-min read

Climate-conscious shareholders have asked a major Queensland coal mining company to reveal how it will meet net zero emissions by 2050.

The group of 117 New Hope investors have filed shareholder resolutions demanding the company outline how it will manage down coal assets.

The resolutions, backed by environmental finance campaigning organisation Market Forces, were listed on the Australian Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

"Shareholders request the company disclose, in subsequent annual reporting, information that demonstrates how the company's capital expenditure and operations pertaining to coal assets will be managed in a manner consistent with a scenario in which global energy emissions reach net zero by 2050," the resolution states.

It comes as New Hope teeters on the brink of expanding Queensland coal mining operations after mining leases were approved for stage three of the New Acland open-cut coal mine.

The controversial project is an expansion of the existing mine about 35 kilometres northwest of Toowoomba on the Darling Downs.

It will lift New Acland's output from 4.8 million tonnes to 7.8 million tonnes a year, and extend the mine's life for 12 years to 2034.

The New Hope Corporation has spent more than a decade fighting for the progression of the project, as environmental groups and landholders fought against the expansion.

The project now has a final hurdle to clear as New Hope waits for water licence approval from the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water.

Landholders and environmentalists have protested against the project, and last year unsuccessfully tried to have it legally blocked.

The legal battle has included a 100-day hearing in the Land Court and actions in both Queensland's supreme and appeal courts, as well as the High Court.

Lawyers familiar with the case say the water licence is far from a foregone conclusion and groundwater is one of the primary reasons the Land Court originally rejected the stage-three proposal.

A Court of Appeal decision in 2019 found earlier Land Court recommendations were affected by "apprehended bias" but did not order another hearing.

The Supreme Court determined that groundwater was not in the Land Court's remit and a condensed version of the case was heard last year after a High Court decision.

The Land Court ultimately recommended the mining leases and environmental authority be granted with conditions.