South Korean Government-owned miner Kepco will appeal to Australia's highest court in a last-ditch bid to extract 6.5 million tonnes of coal a year from the Bylong Valley.
The company lost its second legal appeal last month against the Independent Planning Commission's 2019 decision to reject its mining proposal due to the impact it would have had on water, highly productive farming country, and the climate.
Despite calls for the land to be sold to the State Government, Kepco sought special leave to appeal the decision in the High Court on Thursday.
"This marks Kepco fourth attempt at getting approval for their coal mine, after failing before the NSW Independent Planning Commission, the Land and Environment Court and the Court of Appeal," Environmental Defenders Office managing lawyer Rana Koroglu said.
"On the eve of critical climate talks at the Glasgow climate change conference this month, it is astounding that this company has chosen to pursue this climate-wrecking proposal - which would generate over 200 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions - particularly when South Korea itself has recently made strong commitments to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
"EDO will once again stand with our clients the Bylong Valley Protection Alliance to defend the refusal of this climate-wrecking coal mine."
- Land and Environment Court dismisses an appeal brought by KEPCO over Bylong mine
- KEPCO argues Independent Planning Commission did not follow correct procedures in rejecting Bylong mine
- Independent Planning Commission's refusal of KEPCO's Bylong Valley coal mine to be examined in judicial review
- KEPCO is appealing Independent Planning Commission ruling to refuse coal mine
The Korea National Assembly Budget Office recently revealed Kepco had so far lost US$405 million pursuing the mine.
Kepco's board marked down the value of its Bylong mining rights from AU$642 million to zero last year.
In a statement Kepco said it believed last month's Court of Appeal judgement contained legal errors.
"We are now in negotiations with a prospective licensee for the use of the properties by the licensee for cropping and grazing purposes," the company said.
Bylong Valley Protection Alliance President Phillip Kennedy said it was "bloody devastating" that that company was continuing to pursue a project that had been rejected three times.
"We can't believe Kepco is still trying to build this polluting coal mine after the IPC clearly explained it posed too great a threat to the soils and water we rely on," he said.
"We think it's dangerous to pursue new coal mines as the climate crisis alarm bells ring louder and world leaders prepare for the Glasgow Climate Change Conference."
"If the NSW Government offered modest compensation to Kepco in exchange for cancellation of their coal lease, then our understanding is that farmers would look after the rest," spokesperson Nic Clyde said.
"There is pressure from South Korea on Kepco to sell its Bylong Valley properties before the corporation loses any more money.
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