Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

BHP-Billiton's Dendrobium proposal unacceptable

“The NSW Government must reject BHP-Billiton’s bid to vastly expand its Dendrobium mine in the vulnerable water supply catchment behind Wollongong.  The Dendrobium mine is damaging the Metropolitan Water Supply catchment beyond any sensible measure.  The proposal announced on Monday is too big and damaging,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The twenty or more upland swamps within the proposed mining area are the fountainheads that supply water flows during low rainfall.  These swamps are associated with perennial streams, not ‘ephemeral drainage lines’ as claimed. The evidence points to all these swamps being badly damaged during the proposed mining operations,” Mr Muir said.

BHP Billiton’s modeling predictions say that these upland swamps will be safe, but four large swamps on Native Dog Creek, Wongawilli Creek and Flying Fox Creek were wrecked by adjoining coal mining operations.  The proposed Dendrobium mining is much more intense than at the old Elouera mine next door, and it follows it will cause more damage to the swamps.  This common sense analysis is more reliable than the industry’s favourable modeling estimates”, said Mr Muir.

“Even the Dam Safety Committee, that nest of radical extremists, has been regularly intervening in Dendrobium’s mining operations to wind back the worst excesses. But our catchments are cracking up and our water supplies are draining away and this sort of damage is way outside the Committee’s brief”, he said.

“BHP-Billiton can commission another twenty kilos of reports for the proposal if it likes; the overwhelming on-ground hard evidence is that coal mining in the catchment is out of hand. How many eroded swamps, dead rivers poisoned by methane, cliff falls and cracked and dry stream beds does this Government require before it understands that the intensity of coal mining in the water supply catchments is too high? Mr Muir asks.

“If Frank Sartor and Ian Macdonald approve this high intensity coal mine, the NSW Government will be responsible for loss of water supplies, for landslides and cliff falls, and the destruction and erosion of at least twenty perennial headwater swamps, Mr Muir said.

“Eventually more desalination will be required to substitute for the damage caused by coal mining to these irreplaceable pristine catchments that we hold in trust for future generations.  Those generations will rightly curse us for our greed when mining the ‘black diamond’ contained in the coal seams that underlie and support our essential water supply catchments,” said Mr Muir.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404(m)