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Acland mine court case finally winding up

AAP logoAAP 5/10/2016

A legal challenge against a $900 million mining project on Queensland's Darling Downs - expected to last 10 weeks - is finally winding up in the Land Court seven months later.

Closing oral submissions are being heard on Wednesday, seven months after anti-mining activists launched their case against New Hope's Acland coal mine expansion in March.

Among the 84 hearing days, the case has involved 40 individual objectors, 27 expert witnesses, 38 lay witnesses, two site inspections, almost 1900 exhibits and 7500 pages of court transcripts, according to the Oakey Coal Action Alliance.

They say it's one of the largest environmental public interest cases in Australian history.

Those opposing the expansion, including local farmers, say the mine expansion is unsustainable and will risk farming, water and health in the region.

Alliance president and local farmer Frank Ashman said the case was a "fight for fertile farmland".

"The outcome of this case is not just about Acland - it's about whether Queensland will continue to be an agricultural producer feeding itself and the world ... or whether we sacrifice that for a decade of coal digging," he said on Wednesday.

"We cannot afford to lose our fertile farmland."

The New Hope Group says the expansion will extend the mine's operation to about 2029 and boost employment at the operation.

Coal reserves at the operation are expected to be depleted by 2017 and the company has said if operations cease then redundancies could start as early as this year.

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