Flight Centre founder Graham Turner.
Flight Centre founder Graham Turner. Rob Williams

Ebenezer mine lease appeal is thrown out

AN APPEAL aimed to prevent the reopening of the Ebenezer mine has been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

But, according to backer Graham Turner, the fight isn't over.

The Court of Appeal judgment was not unanimous, with one judge calling for the appeal to be upheld and two ruling it be dismissed.

The appellants, Teresa Monica Wright and Helen Enid Jennifer Bright, who live near the mine, were ordered to pay costs for the minister for mining.

Wright and Bright argued the owner of the mine from 2008 to 2011, Zedemar Holdings, had breached its lease by not using it for mining operations and the minister should not have allowed the lease to be renewed.

Flight Centre founder Turner, who backs the campaign against the mine, said: "We'll assess our options and see if there are any other avenues for appeal."

Justice Henry Fryberg was the only judge to agree with the appellants.

"In my judgment, the evidence before the minister admitted of only one conclusion: Zedemar had breached the statutory condition," Justice Fryberg said.

"Not only did the minister make a decision which was irrational on the evidence before him he also failed to turn his mind to all of the evidence and the difficulties which it posed."

However, Justices Margaret White and Duncan McKeekin disagreed. "Zedemar was not in breach of the lease but was acting in accordance with the purpose for which the lease was granted," Justice McKeekin said.

"I can not accept that it is a sensible interpretation of the obligations under the lease, a lease that is intended to be a commercial arrangement of value to the state that uneconomic mining be required.

"Nor does it seem realistic the holder of the lease surrenders the lease because international prices and other conditions make further mining uneconomic for at least a period in circumstances where millions of tonnes of winnable coal have been identified as present on the lease."