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Australian court bars new coal mine project in landmark win for green lobby

Reuters  |  MELBOURNE 

By Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Developers have lost a court appeal to build a mine in Australia's Valley over its potentially "dire" environmental impact in the country's first legal review of a mine project to hear evidence from a

In the landmark ruling, Justice on Friday denied the appeal on the project in New state, citing an increase in emissions, as well as uncertain economic benefits and adverse social and visual impacts.

The project was developed by privately held Resources, a unit of GRL Holdings Pty Ltd, which has the right to appeal to the New supreme court.

"Resources Limited will assess the implications of today's decision and consider its next steps," it said in a statement.

is the world's biggest exporter and the fuel is its largest resources earner. last year scrapped plans for a national policy that aimed to cut carbon emissions as well as power prices in part due to opposition from coal supporters within its ranks.

In his ruling, the found that mine and associated (GHG) emissions would add to the global total "at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions."

"In short, an open cut coal mine in this part of the valley would be in the wrong place at the wrong time," Preston found. "These dire consequences should be avoided."

At the end of January the made waves in when it said the country needed to cut emissions more sharply to meet its Climate accord target as the country remained heavily dependent on coal-fired power.

But on Thursday a study published earlier on Friday by (ANU) researchers found the country is adopting renewable faster per capita than the rest of the world. Rapid recent growth in wind and solar power has left it on track to meet carbon emissions reductions targets well before 2030, it found.

The ruling was set to make developing new coal mines or expanding existing projects more challenging, said

"On first pass it doesn't read well for the industry," he said. "And it does indicate an ongoing and increased level of scrutiny of this industry, which is only likely to become greater."

Shares in Australian-listed coal miners and New Hope, which both have coal projects on the drawing board, fell 3.5 and 2.2 percent respectively by 0446 GMT on Friday, in line with lower Australian thermal coal prices.

declined to comment on whether it expects any impact on its own development plans. New Hope officials couldn't immediately be reached.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the court ruling.

The of Australia's Climate Council, Amanda McKenzie, said "must continue to transition away from fossil and embrace renewable with storage".

"The science says so, and now the law does too," she said in a statement.

($1 = 1.4156 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Additional reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 08 2019. 10:59 IST