Palmer coal mine court battle kicks off

Aaron Bunch
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CLIVE PALMER COAL MINE COURT

Mel McAuliffe (centre) says coal exacerbates bushfires, floods, droughts and heatwaves

A court battle between billionaire businessman Clive Palmer and opponents of a massive mine planned for Queensland's Galilee Basin near the Adani project is under way.

The case, which started with a preliminary hearing in the Land Court on Friday, is the first time a coal mine has been challenged on human rights grounds in Australia.

Opponent and Youth Verdict co-founder Mel McAuliffe says the mining and burning of coal are contributing to the climate crisis.

"It exacerbates severe weather events, like bushfires, floods, droughts and heatwaves," she told reporters outside the Brisbane court.

"Only this year have we had our human rights legally recognised and we will not surrender them so Clive Palmer can profit off another dirty coal mine."

Bimblebox Alliance spokeswoman Sheena Gillman said the proposed mine also risked destroying the 8000-hectare nature reserve in the Galilee Basin.

"Bimblebox is a unique place in Queensland. It protects thousands of plants and animals," she said.

"It is irreplaceable and it should not be destroyed for a polluting coal mine."

Waratah Coal applied for a mining lease for its Galilee Coal Project in 2011.

The project consists of two open-cut and four underground mining operations, coal-handling preparation plants and a rail network to a proposed port facility at Abbot Point.

The application was referred to the court under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 after objections to the mining lease and the related environmental authority were received.

There are 32 objectors, 25 of which oppose both the mining lease and the environmental authority applications.

The remaining seven, including the Bimblebox Alliance and Youth Verdict, objected only to the mining lease.

Friday's hearing set down the ground rules for the fight, which will return to court in August for Waratah to challenge some of the objections.

The actual hearing for the case has been tentatively set down for five weeks in May next year.

Traditional owners, anthropologists, ecologists, economists, hydrogeologists and climate change experts are expected to give evidence.