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Chinese firm set to go ahead with mine in Australia despite concern for koala

(Xinhua)    15:40, May 06, 2015

SYDNEY, May 6 -- A large scale coal mine is due to be developed as planned in Australia after Chinese company Shenhua received a positive report from an independent advisory board on Wednesday.

After the company met official laws in its application to develop the mine, a group of local residents in the Liverpool Plains region of New South Wales (NSW) launched court action last week in a last ditch effort to halt the mine, which has been planned since 2008.

The claim centers on the threat to the nearby habitat of koala bears, which are officially endangered in Australia.

A court will decide on the merit of the application on May 29.

However Shenhua's Australian chief Paul Jackson told Xinhua on Wednesday that a report by the independent Expert Scientific Committee which advises the national government on such issues had been received. He would not elaborate on it, but indicated the mine would proceed.

He said scientific measures had been researched and were ready to be put in place to ensure the koala population could be relocated or protected in areas near the planned mine to be developed in a large farming area of NSW stretching 847 hectares.

A Shenhua spokesman said areas already cleared by farming long ago would be planted with new trees to return habitat for koalas near the mine which will employ around 600 people in its development and operation.

Such mines are actively opposed in regional Australian communities.

Jackson said the process had been hard for Shenhua.

"The Chinese are patient people but that patience has been stretched during this process," he said.

"We have upheld all the rules during that time and doubled them. We know we are a controversial project.

"That's why we have gone out of our way to make sure we tick all the dots and cross the T's."

Lawyer Sue Higginson, who is acting for the mine's opponents, said the court would ultimately decide an outcome on May 29.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yao Xinyu,Zhang Qian)

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