The Planning and Assessment Commission has just approved open-cut mining in the beautiful Gardens of Stone area. The information below was sent to us today by the Blue Mountains Conservation Society.
On Monday 5 February 2018, the independent Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) decided that Invincible mine can restart open-cut mining in the Gardens of Stone area and in the former Coalpac proposal area. The area is beside the Castlereagh Highway and will extend the Invincible’s current devastated moonscape.
In 2014 the PAC rejected a larger open cut proposal including this area saying that the highest and best use of the land was conservation.
Mine owners, Manildra Group, argued that the mine should reopen to supply coal to their Shoalhaven factory to assist in making ethanol for petrol blends. Even though they are already using alternate coal supplies.
The approval observes a buffer zone around nearby pagodas but, very importantly, it does not protect the total pagoda landscape complex from permanent destruction. (Previous PACs recognised that the slopes and associated woodlands associated with the pagoda formations were essential for the protection of the animals and plants including threatened species).
The endangered Purple Copper Butterfly, ‘one of Australia’s rarest butterflies' uses the land to be mined. However, the PAC has said mining can go ahead and has agreed that the butterflies’ essential habitat, a Bursaria spinosa subspecies and the associated anthills, is removed and replanted elsewhere in a 'translocation trial'. This is highly unlikely to work and will put this rare and beautiful butterfly at further risk.
The loss of habitat for the endangered broad headed snake will most likely be compensated for by the mine paying money into the NSW government’s species conservation fund. This decision will open the door to further destructive open cut mining proposals in the area.
We totally oppose the destruction of the conservation values of the unprotected Gardens of Stone region. The Society will continue to seek full protection of the Gardens of Stone Stage 2 Proposal area as State Conservation Areas.
You can read more about this devastating decision in this Sydney Morning Herald article.
The Planning and Assessment Commission's determination report can be found here.