Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hunter Valley mines washing coal with huge quantities of water

A new report commissioned by Lock the Gate Alliance has revealed the scale of water consumption by coal mines in the Hunter region and the extensive damage being done to both surface and groundwater in the region by expanded open cut coal mining.
Vast quantities of water are now owned by coal mines. Agricultural industries have not only been pushed out of rich farmland but are grappling with worsening salinity caused by mining and are struggling to compete for the water they rely on for their livelihoods.
The area of the Hunter cut open by coal mines has increased 18-fold since 1981, from 1742 hectares to 31 500 hectares.
In total, the coal mines own entitlements to 143 billion litres of water, and last year they consumed almost 88.5 billion litres from various Hunter Valley sources. Coal companies dominate ownership of 'high security' water, including 55% of all 'high security' shares of the Hunter River, which means they will obtain water preferentially during times of drought.
Hunter mine open cut pits and final voids (following closure of an open cut mine, mining companies frequently leave a 'void' as the final landform, because they object to paying the cost of refilling them) are also reducing base flow of the Hunter River. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn't compete

As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it's used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over.
Rooftop solar panels


Speakers from EDO, Lock the Gate and CVA - DONT MISS IT!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Whitehaven forced to halt clearing of Leard State Forest for Maules Creek coal mine

Breaking news sent to us from

On Thursday 12 June, Whitehaven Coal was forced to halt clearing of the Leard State Forest where it plans to develop its Maules Creek coal mine. 

Maules Creek Community Council, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office NSW, sought an interim injunction in the NSW Land and Environment Court, to immediately stop the clearing during winter when animals, including threatened species, are hibernating in the forest.

A judgment on the case was expected on Thursday afternoon (12 June 2014); however, Whitehaven instead has given an undertaking to the Court that it will halt the clearing until a full hearing on the matter, which is expected in early September. While Whitehaven claims that they are on track with the development of the mine, the reality is they have only cleared 130 hectares - just a third of the 375 hectares they had planned to clear in the first year of their plans.

As Maules Creek Community Council spokesperson, Phil Laird, said: 'This outcome today sends a strong message to coal mining companies across NSW and to the NSW Government – if they will not enforce the law, then the community is prepared to step up and do it themselves'.

Whitehaven will continue with work to develop the mine in areas it has already cleared, so the battle is far from over, but this is a triumphant moment to celebrate: for now the destruction has been halted. The forest lives on, and the coal still remains in the ground.

Community support and action has given the local community hope that this destruction can be stopped for good.

You can read more about the action at Maules creek on the website and on the Maules Creek Community Council website

While the community's struggle for justice at Maules Creek is not over, this is an inspiring example of the power of individuals working as a community to stop destructive actions by big multinationals. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Members might be interested in this information session THIS SUNDAY at Wentworth Falls. Includes an update on Coalpac and CENTENNIAL COAL applications

Friday, April 18, 2014

Save Our Foodbowl From Mining

BHP is planning on digging the largest underground coal mine in the world under some of Australia's very best farmlands, on the Liverpool Plains in north-western NSW. The Liverpool Plains is important and unique because it combines exceptionally fertile volcanic soils with high output aquifers and reliable summer and winter rainfall. (Members may remember Tim Duddy from the Liverpool Plains coming to talk at one of the meetings soon after the 'Inglenook' project began.)
Each year, the Liverpool Plains produces enough grain for 365 million loaves of bread, 62.5 million packets of pasta, and 58 million boxes of cornflakes. It is feeding the nation.
But all that is at risk from this staggeringly large underground coal mine. A mine that will cut through aquifers and risk draining the precious groundwater. BHP has decided that the mine will not have a significant impact on water resources and has told the Federal Government that it doesn't trigger the water clauses in the Federal environment laws.
We have a very short window of opportunity to tell them otherwise. We have until 23 April to make initial comments on it the proposal. Please take a minute to send an email to protect our national foodbowl, the Liverpool Plains, and the rich groundwater supplies that support it.
Go to the Lock the Gate website for more information on this mine.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Conflicts of interest in mining community consultation committees and land access disputes

The Newcastle Herald reported yesterday that 'the state government’s oversight of committees set up to give communities a say on mining projects has been called into question over criticisms their membership is open to conflicts of interest'.

Specifically, the independence of 'Inglenook' community consultative committee (CCC) chair, Margaret McDonald-Hill, has been called into question. Ms McDonald-Hill oversees 11 CCCs. She is chairwoman of a committee for an exploration project, a reference group for the proposed Wallarah 2 mine, and AGL’s Hunter and Camden coal seam gas committees, for which she is paid by AGL via the Department of Trade and Investment. She is also on the Mine Subsidence Board, on the government’s panel of arbitrators, and has been approached to join federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane’s NSW CSG taskforce aimed at kick-starting industry activity.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said Ms McDonald-Hill’s roles 'overlap and seem to create significant conflicts of interest' . He said in a press release: 'Undeclared payments directly from the mining company undermine the independence of the chair and the community’s confidence in the CCC.  The current system means that the community often perceives the "independent chair" as simply a stooge of the mining company.Bylong Valley Protection Alliance spokesman Craig Shaw said there was little evidence the Department of Trade and Investment screened for potential conflicts of interests, with Ms McDonald-Hill’s appointment an example.

We hope that the state government responds by undertaking a comprehensive overhaul of the system, showing the people of NSW that they take the roles of CCC chair and independent arbitrator seriously so that the community can begin to have some trust in the process. It seems all too clear that at present the government could not care less and the mining companies are happy to exploit the flawed system as far as they can.