Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Running Stream CCC November meeting notes

RSWUA secretary, Jolieske Lips, recorded the following notes at the recent CCC meeting.

Because of the drop in coal prices and international demand, Centennial is reviewing all its
operations with following ramifications:

  • There has been no drilling in the Inglenook project since the hole at Round Swamp and
  • only limited drilling is planned for 2015.
  • Centennial now has only five operating mines (previously 11).
  • Angus Place mine has been placed into care and maintenance, and unless coal prices improve, won’t open again till 2023, when Springvale mine is due to finish. Of the 268 workers there, about 100 have been relocated to Springvale or Clarence, 2-3 will continue at Angus Place to caretake, and the rest have been made redundant. Voluntary redundancies have been offered at Springvale and Clarence to try and create more positions for Angus Place workers.
  • All support staff positions (ie those not actually working in a mine) are under review and there are likely to be cuts.

  • The REF was for 28 drill sites, but only 18 have been drilled so far (with a total of 27 bore holes as some sites had additional monitoring holes, and some bore holes had to be re-drilled because of collapses).
  • The Department has accepted a Change of Work Program (ie Centennial ended up doing only 18 sites, not the 28 proposed under their original exploration licence, so the lesser number has been accepted).
  • Application has been made for renewal of the exploration licences (which expire Dec 2014 and Jan 2015), with 45 boreholes planned – more holes may be needed (to define geological features, intrusions, faulting etc).
  • Drill site rehabilitation has been signed off.
  • Expired monitoring agreements have been extended.
  • There are ongoing access agreement negotiations for environmental monitoring and drilling activities.
  • Surface and groundwater monitoring continues quarterly.
  • A Community Newsletter will be distributed shortly (we saw the draft).

Esme Martens (who is now the MWRC rep as well as a community rep) reported that MWRC were developing an urban release program based on a consultant’s report, which mentioned Inglenook would be operating by 2021 and asked Centennial about this. Centennial denied having any start date. There was some discussion as to where the consultant would have got this information – possibly from an outdated company prospectus painting a rosy picture for investors.

Related to the above topic, there was some discussion of possible new mines in the area, noting that Mt Penny, although mentioned in the above consultant’s report, has had its exploration licence cancelled and that Bylong has gone through the Gateway process. This process does not allow for shutting the gate on any proposed mines, but only for imposing conditions. It was noted that so far the PAC has actually refused two mines: the Coalpak one at Cullen Bullen and one in the Hunter (thanks to the power of the horse breeding industry). There is hope yet we may be able to save our water!

Centennials own draft minutes of this CCC meeting are available on their website.

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 350.org.au

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 350.org.au 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.