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Qld miners call for water law exemption

AAP logoAAP 1/11/2016 Stuart Layt

Hundreds of Acland mine staff have marched on Queensland parliament calling for an expansion to be granted an exemption from the next stage of the Labor government's proposed water safety laws.

Chanting "Shame Anna shame", the miners called on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to grant operators New Hope Coal an exemption or risk having staff axed when the Darling Downs mine runs out of coal in early 2017.

Parliament is scheduled to debate the legislation, introduced in September amid claims by New Hope it was rushed through the committee process, late on Tuesday.

New Hope chief operating officer Andrew Boyd says if the expansion is delayed they will be forced to start laying off some of their 300 full-time employees and 500 mine contractors.

"We've probably got around a year and a half left of coal at Acland," Mr Boyd said.

"If this legislation goes through unamended, we believe we'll have to reduce our workforce from mid-next year."

Mr Boyd said they do not want to consider mothballing the facility until the issue is cleared up.

"Technically it's not hard, but fundamentally the impact on people's lives is enormous," he said.

"They can't go and get mortgages, they can't invest in their future cause they don't know where they'll be in 12 months time, I don't think that's fair."

The mine has faced a number of legal challenges, most recently in the Land Court from the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, representing local farmers.

Acland mine worker Matthew Toncheck was one of many who gathered outside parliament on Tuesday.

He was a dairy farmer until deregulation drove him out of the industry 15 years ago and into mining, and denied there had to be tension between the two industries.

"I'm a farmer at heart, so I hold water, I hold the weather, I hold all the things that are natural to a high regard, but it's the untruths," he said.

"We've been there 15 years now and we've seen no effect. If there is an effect, they have all the things in place to counteract that effect."

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