Sunday, July 5, 2015


EPA not ruling out legal action over Lithgow coal mine pollution

Centennial Coal could face legal action after admitting the collapse of a wall at its Clarence Colliery in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, resulted in the contamination of the Wollangambe River.

Lithgow pollution downstream

Read the full story here
and more here

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pope Francis calls for action on climate change

Last week, in the first papal document, or encyclical, dedicated to the environment, Pope Francis demanded swift action to halt impending environmental ruin, and urged world leaders to hear 'the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor' and halt the 'unprecedented destruction of ecosystems'.

said the time had come for parts of the world to accept decreased growth. He advocated a change of lifestyle in rich countries steeped in a 'throwaway' consumer culture and an end to an 'obstructionist attitudes' that put profit before the common good.

He took on big business, appearing to back 'what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products' in order to force companies to respect the environment.

Noting also the 'remarkable' weakness of political responses to climate change, Pope Francis accused sceptics of cynically ignoring or manipulating the scientific evidence:

There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.
We know how unsustainable is the behaviour of those who constantly consume and destroy, while others are not yet able to live in a way worthy of their human dignity.
On the subject of fossil fuels, he wrote:
There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced – for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy. Worldwide there is minimal access to clean and renewable energy. There is still a need to develop adequate storage technologies.
We know that technology based on the use of highly-polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions. But the international community has still not reached adequate agreements about the responsibility for paying the costs of this energy transition.
On the subject of water, he wrote:
Underground water sources in many places are threatened by the pollution produced in certain mining, farming and industrial activities, especially in countries lacking adequate regulation or controls...
Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.

Greater scarcity of water will lead to an increase in the cost of food and the various products which depend on its use. Some studies warn that an acute water shortage may occur within a few decades unless urgent action is taken. The environmental repercussions could affect billions of people; it is also conceivable that the control of water by large multinational businesses may become a major source of conflict in this century.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Good news! The largest sovereign wealth fund in the world has just agreed to divest from coal

In what is set to be the largest divestment from fossil fuels ever made, the Norwegian parliament has issued a unanimous recommendation to divest its country’s sovereign wealth fund from the coal industry. This happened just hours after a coalition of groups delivered nearly 50 000 signatures and thousands Tweeted for Norway to divest.

As global climate group says: 
Norway's parliament agrees to divest its $900 billion oil fund from coal. This is the largest fund to make a divestment – ever. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global is not only the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund; it is also one of the top ten investors in the global coal industry. This recommendation asks the government to exclude companies deriving more than 30% of their revenues or their power production from coal. With all parties endorsing the recommendation, it’s widely expected to be formally adopted by parliamentary vote on June 5. expects that Norway’s Pension Fund investments in companies like Germany’s RWE, China’s Shenhua, Duke Energy from the Unites States, Australia’s AGL Energy, Reliance Power from India, Japan’s Electric Power Development Corporation, Semirara Mining from the Philippines and Poland’s PGE will, for example, all be shed. Read more about it here

For some more background, Greenpeace Norway, German environmental organisation urgewald and Norwegian group Framtiden i vĂ¥re hender have also co-published a report on Norway's divestment: 'Still dirty, still dangerous'.

(The Guardian newspaper, however, has a more sobering take on the news, saying ‘World’s richest sovereign wealth fund increased its investments in coal despite high-profile pledge to dump fossil fuels, financial analysis shows’. You can read the full article: 'Norway's sovereign wealth fund accused of “pretend divestment”’ here.)

Centennial to drill four test sites in 2015

Centennial has received a budget to drill four sites in in the 'inglenook' exploration area in 2015.

These sites are still to be determined, which means Centennial will be approaching at least four landholders to sign an access agreement.

Should you be approached and want some clarification on your rights and the correct procedure, please contact the RSWUA committee at

Below are some notes from Centennial's presentation to the last CCC, in March 2015.

Company update:
• The coal industry is continuing to experience a significant downturn in the international coal market.
• Restructures in the Northern and Western region have been implemented and redeployment has been used to minimise retrenchments.
• Angus Place mine has moved to care and maintenance as from 28 March.

Project update:
• No exploration drilling since the last CCC meeting.
• Exploration License (EL) Renewal documentation submitted for EL7431, EL7432 and EL7442.
• Surface water and groundwater monitoring undertaken quarterly under existing agreements. Incidents: Nil.

Activities for 2015
• Limited Exploration drilling planned for 2015 (in fact, 4 sites have now been approved, as noted above).
• Exploration drilling budget for 2015 yet to be approved. If approved the CCC will be notified (this has been done: 4 sites).
• Ongoing access agreement negotiations for environmental monitoring and drilling activities.
• Continuation of surface water and groundwater monitoring.
• Ongoing flora surveys.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

News from Bylong Valley Protection Alliance

BVPA's Craig Shaw has let us know that ABC’s Australian Story will feature Bylong property Tarwyn Park in this evening’s program, titled “The Battle for Tarwyn Park”. The iconic property has been described as being of national significance, and was recently (by all accounts reluctantly) sold to mining company Kepco.

There has been quite a bit of media coverage about Tarwyn Park and Bylong in recent days:

  • There is a story about Tarwyn Park in Saturday’s Newcastle Herald.
  •  And a report in ABC news today in which a University of Newcastle study calls for Tarwyn’s heritage listing. 
  •  A couple of weeks ago Premier Baird was invited to visit Bylong, meet the locals and have a guided tour of Tarwyn, hosted by owner Stuart Andrews. The response from his office was that he was too busy. The invite and the “no thanks” generated a bit of media interest, given the Premier’s commitment to become an “expert” in mining issues and his visit to Bulga:

If you feel like writing a short note to the Premier saying you think he should reconsider and visit Tarwyn after all, it’s very easy to leave a message via his contact form, or you can write to him at GPO Box 5341, Sydney 2001, or phone him on 02 8574 5000.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

NSW Planning to Move the Coal-Posts

(Material below courtesy of The Australia Institute.)

The NSW Planning Department is secretly working with the mining industry to change economic assessment guidelines which would make it easier for unviable mines to get approval.

Centennial Coal referred to the new guidelines in a response to The Australia Institute’s submission on the company’s Airly Mine proposal in the Capertee Valley, north of Lithgow. The Australia Institute's submission pointed out that the cost benefit analysis of the Airly project didn’t actually discuss any of the costs or the main benefit – revenue – of the mine.

Existing NSW guidelines state that economic assessment should look at 'all major costs and benefits to whoever they accrue', before then looking at what costs and benefits are relevant to the NSW community. It is important for decision makers to have an understanding of the total costs and revenues of a project, because if a project isn’t financially viable, it won’t provide jobs and royalties to the state.
Centennial should know this, because just months after consultants to the company’s Angus Place mine expansion estimated that project had a total economic benefit of $770 million, Angus Place was closed because it wasn’t making any money.

Despite their estimates on Angus Place being wrong by at least $770 million, Centennial’s consultants defended their approach by saying: 'The fact that the Department of Planning and Environment is now developing [new] guidelines … demonstrates that different approaches are relevant'.

So sure, Centennial’s assessments don’t comply with existing guidelines (a fact confirmed by Planning’s own review). And sure, assessment done the way Centennial does it means a mine that’s going broke can claim hundreds of millions in benefits. But that doesn’t matter, because Planning is making new guidelines that make this all OK.

The Australia Institute spoke to Planning about these new guidelines. They are being drafted in collaboration with mining companies, their consultants and the Minerals Council to make sure they are 'fit for purpose'. Once the new NSW government has approved them, then they will go on display for public comment. We can’t wait.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Marie Bashir says 'Protect our farmland from mining'!

"The sale of our farm land, and the destruction of our farm land, must stop," Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir, former Governor of NSW.

We are less than three weeks from the state election and the destructive impact of coal mining is firmly on the agenda.

The widely respected and much-loved former Governor of NSW, Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir was on the cover of the Sydney Morning Herald on March 10, making an impassioned plea that our farmland be protected from coal mining. 

We know Premier Mike Baird and his colleagues in the NSW Government listen when Dame Marie speaks, so the significance of this bold call cannot be overstated. Take a look:

Marie Bashir

You might like to watch Dame Marie's full speech (it's inspirational!), you can check it out here.

This comes just a fortnight after leaked reports revealed that mining companies have prepared plans for as many as 16 new or expanded coal mines in the NSW Upper Hunter Valley. These are plans that our government knew about but kept secret from the community.

Mining companies often talk about rehabilitating land once mining is done but now the devastating truth has been revealed: mining in the Hunter Valley could leave a legacy of more than 10,000 hectares of land consumed as 'final voids' (giant holes) and could cost $15 billion to clean up!

Further north, the NSW government gave the green light to Chinese state-owned mining company Shenhua to put in a massive new open-cut coal mine on the Liverpool Plains. But local farmers are fighting back.

Never before have we seen open-cut coal mining on such a scale. The mines are getting bigger than ever before and closer to our homes, farmland, forests and water catchments. But right around the state communities are standing up to say enough is enough.

Our Land, Our Water, Our Future is running a campaign to tell MPs how the community is feeling about goal and gas mining. You can click here to find out about it

(Thanks to Our Land, Our Water, Our Future for this content.)