The opponents of a massive coal project in Queensland are celebrating after the company dropped its legal appeal against an historic land court refusal.

Waratah Coal’s Galilee Project would see the construction of two open cut mines inland from Rockhampton in central Queensland with an output of approximately 40 million tonnes of coal per year.

The project was rejected by the state’s Land Court in a case brought by First Nations young women and environmentalists last year.

Queensland land court president Fleur Kingham said the emissions from the burning of the coal would limit the human and cultural rights of First Nations people through the effects it would have on climate change.

It’s the first time a project has been knocked back on a human rights basis.

The land court also made history by travelling up to Cairns and the Torres Strait Islanders to hear from witnesses on country and to see the effect climate change is already having on First Nations communities.

The court heard oral evidence about how climate change is currently affecting people’s ability to practice and develop culture, live on Country and protect their Country.

The Land Court found that if the mine were to be approved, burning the coal overseas would contribute to further climate change that limits the human rights of people in Queensland, including the cultural rights of First Nations people.

Youth Verdict First Nations Lead and co-director Murrawah Johnson says delivering evidence on country was essential to telling the entire story.

“Youth Verdict worked hard to ensure that First Nations ways of being and cultural practices were incorporated in our evidence and formed the foundation of our arguments. They were strong and could not be denied. 

“It is Youth Verdict’s hope that the success of our First Nations-first human rights case and the wins throughout the case — such as On-Country and concurrent evidence from witnesses — allows more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to object to climate-destroying fossil fuel projects proposed throughout Queensland in defence of First Nations cultures and our collective future.  

“The difference with this case was taking the decision maker, in this instance the Land Court, to where climate change and its negative impacts to First Nations peoples and cultures is clear, obvious and irrefutable. We now call on the Queensland Government to reject Clive Palmer’s Waratah mining lease and environmental approval applications.”  

The Bimblebox Alliance spokesperson Sharyn Munro said: “The discontinuation of this appeal gives hope to us all — the inhabitants of Bimblebox, the people of Queensland and future generations. The court’s most important finding — that emissions from Australian coal burnt overseas do count in Queensland — stands unchallenged and can be used by anyone objecting to new thermal coal projects in this state.