Rinehart Coal Mine Draws Environmentalists’ Opposition

Gina Rinehart, Asia’s richest woman, faces opposition from environmentalists who say they filed legal action to block her plans to build a $10 billion coal mine, port and rail project in Australia with GVK Group.

Coast and Country Association of Qld Inc. challenged the state government’s proposed approval of what would be the biggest mine in Queensland, arguing it will damage the environment and contribute to climate change, the group said in an e-mailed release. A copy of the court filing wasn’t immediately available.

“This mine is another monster for Queensland,” Derec Davies, a spokesman for Coast and Country, said in the statement. “Not much is known about its impacts on water.”

The action against the project, majority owned by Indian billionaire GV Krishna Reddy’s GVK Group, adds to efforts by environmentalists to disrupt production of coal in Australia, the world’s biggest source of the commodity. Xstrata Plc (XTA) last year defeated a challenge to its Wandoan coal mine in Queensland, which opponents said threatens the Great Barrier Reef because the coal will be exported and burned and add to global warming.

Coast and Country’s lawyers sent a notice of the objection yesterday to Hancock Coal, according to a copy provided to Bloomberg News. Mark Bickerton, a spokesman at Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Pty, which controls Hancock Coal, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the environmentalists’ objections.

Earlier Case

Carmel MacDonald, president of the Land Court of Queensland, dismissed the objections to Xstrata’s project in March, saying opponents failed to prove the mine would cause environmental harm.

Davies said in a phone interview his group’s challenge differs from the previous attempt because it’s willing to accept a loss at the lower court and appeal the decision.

“We’re prepared to go as far as we have to,” he said.

The proposed Hancock GVK project will be almost double the size of Queensland’s current biggest coal mine and will produce about 30 million metric tons of coal a year, Davies said.

GVK agreed in September 2011 to pay $1.26 billion for a 79 percent stake in Hancock Prospecting’s Alpha and Alpha West, Kevin’s Corner, railway and port projects. Federal and state approvals for the proposed coal mine helped boost debt funding and stake talks with investors, the Indian developer said in October.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Sydney at jschneider5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net

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