Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Crevasses put Dendrobium mine extension plans in doubt

“Deep splits, a metre wide, have opened up in the water supply catchment due to underground mine at the BHP-Billiton’s Dendrobium colliery[1].  Unless mining intensity is greatly reduced, the currently proposed expansion plans for the Dendrobium mine should be rejected,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The coal mining in the water supply catchments south of Sydney seems to be out of control with new damage to our water catchments appearing almost every week.  BHP-Billiton can write all the development proposal reports for its proposed Area 3 that it likes, but these unexpected metre wide crevasses cast the assurances of its experts into doubt,” Mr Muir said.

“Such huge cracks in the ground are caused by intensive longwall mining, and such damage to the catchments can’t be fixed”, he said.

“These deep, wide cracks are also a death trap to wildlife and force rainforest trees to topple”, Mr Muir said.

“BHP-Billiton’s extension plans for its Dendrobium Area 3 proposal will further crack the ground and comprehensively damage twenty upland swamps.  In dry weather, these swamps are the fountainheads of streams in the catchment.  Several swamps in the adjoining Elouera mine area have been destroyed by past longwall mining and the current proposals are more intense than the older operations”, said Mr Muir.

“Approvals for the proposed high intensity mining will cause the destruction of these headwater swamps.  Unless the damage is prevented, the water yields of our pristine catchments will be reduced, on top of the predicted losses from climate change” he said.

“The coal mining industry has pushed the intensity of coal too far and has lost touch with reality.  You don’t need to be an expert to understand what extensive surface cracks mean to a water supply catchment.”

“The mining industry should be less greedy, mine less intensely to protect Sydney’s essential water supplies.  Continuing this level of mining intensity as proposed by BHP-Billiton will cause Sydney’s best water supply catchments to dry up”, said Mr Muir.

(images of crevasses in rainforest are available)

[1] Last month, David Burgess of Total Environment Centre, Julie Sheppard of the National Parks Association and myself were shown the damaging metre-wide deep crevasses only a kilometre from the stored waters of Lake Cordeaux on a Sydney Catchment Authority inspection. 

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