Sacked Qld workers 'used as pawns': union

A union says sacked Queensland workers were used as pawns to get a failed $900m coal mine approved.
A union says sacked Queensland workers were used as pawns to get a failed $900m coal mine approved.

Sacked Queensland workers were used as pawns in a failed bid to win government approvals for a controversial $900 million coal project, the CFMEU says.

About 150 workers at the New Acland coal mine on the Darling Downs, near Toowoomba, lost their jobs this week, potentially affecting hundreds more in the wider community.

The CFMEU says New Hope Group used its workers in a failed three-week campaign to pressure the state government into green-lighting an expansion of the mine, despite an ongoing court battle to block it.

"They used them as pawns for their media game and now that didn't pay out, yep, take them off the (books)," CFMEU district vice-president Shane Brunker told AAP on Friday.

Redundancies began at the mine as New Hope Group on Tuesday announced its best full-year net profit before non-regular items in company history, after revenue of $1.3 billion, up 21 per cent from the previous financial year.

Managing director Shane Stephan told investors the expansion delay was temporary and the company would continue to pursue the project.

"Ideologically we hate coal companies with a passion," Mr Brunker said.

"But we have to stay there at the table and talk to them - the 150 workers are the most important thing at the moment."

The union remains hopeful the Palaszczuk government will intervene to save the jobs following a meeting with Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham earlier in the week.

They've asked for the government to immediately draft legislation to approve the project with licences issued on the proviso New Hope Group re-employs the workers.

Mr Brunker said Mr Lynham agreed to update the union on Friday following talks with cabinet and the company.

Approving the mine expansion may not be so simple, however.

The Court of Appeal recently issued draft orders that could see farmers' objections over the expansion re-heard in the Land Court, despite a Supreme Court recently dismissing them.

Dr Lynham has previously said the government will wait for the final decision of the court on the project.

Mine opponents, the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, say they'll continue battling the expansion for fear it will deplete or contaminate underground water supplies in the area.

Australian Associated Press