Wandoan Coal Mine Case

This case study involved an objection and subsequent appeal against the Wandoan Coal Mine, an open-cut coal mine proposed to operate for 35 years west of the township of Wandoan, approximately 350 km northwest of Brisbane and 60 km south of Taroom in the Surat Basin, Queensland.

The mine is part of the Wandoan Coal Project proposed by Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd and its joint venturers.

The thermal coal deposits for the mine are estimated to be in excess of 1.2 billion tonnes and are located within three mining lease applications covering approximately 32,000 hectares.

Consultants for the applicants prepared an environmental impact statement that calculated that the mining and use of the coal would produce 1.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases.

The Friends of the Earth - Brisbane Co-Op Ltd (FOE), a conservation group, lodged an objection to the mine due to the contribution its emissions will make to climate change and ocean acidification.

Neighbouring landholders also objected to the mine due to noise, dust, groundwater and other issues; however, these objections are not the focus here.

The objection by FOE and other objections by neighbouring farmers was heard by the Land Court of Queensland in Brisbane, from 22 August - 31 August 2011.

The Court dismissed FOE's objection and recommended that the mining lease and environmental authority be granted. Some changes were recommended to address concerns raised by the landholders.

FOE appealed the decision to the Land Appeal Court but discontinued the appeal before a decision was reached.

Key documents for this case are:

Mining application & EIS documents

  • Application for a mining lease and an environmental authority.
  • Mine layout plan and 30-year mining schedule. The proposed mine has 14 pits, several 5km x 5km in area, and is approximately 30km east to west and 20km north to south. The pits will go to around 70m in depth.
  • Declaration that the mine was a significant project by the Coordinator-General.
  • Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), including calculation of the greenhouse gases to be produced by the mine in Chapter 14 of Volume 1 and an attached technical report available here.

Objection by FOE

  • Directions made by the Land Court setting out the steps leading up to the objections hearing on 22 August - 2 September 2011.

Xstrata climate change expert reports

FOE climate change expert reports

  • Dr Malte Meinshausen report on the contribution of the Wandoan Coal Mine to climate change and ocean acidification [without attachments to respect copyright] (Exhibit 103).

  • Professor Ove Heogh-Guldberg report on impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on the Great Barrier Reef [without attachments to respect copyright] (Exhibit 104).

  • Mr Hans Hoegh-Guldberg report on economic impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef (Exhibit 105).

Xstrata supplementary climate change reports

Submissions & trial decision

Appeal to Land Appeal Court

  • Notice of Appeal filed by FOE (later discontinued before a decision was reached, therefore, the appeal ended).

Approvals issued for mine

Postscript on mine

In November 2012 the future of the mine was in doubt due to market conditions.

In March 2013 the mine was reported to be even less likely to proceed due to the risk of the project and market conditions.

In September 2013 the mine was reported to have been placed on indefinite hold due to market conditions and the business risks involved in proceeding.



A large open-cut coal mine in Queensland

(not the Wandoan Coal Mine).

Source: Business News (28 May 2010)

A photograph of the proposed mine site.

Source: Xstrata IAS


Sample pit near Wandoan showing one of the coal seams proposed to be mined.

Source: Xstrata media image library