Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Ban Multiseam coal mining

Total Environment Centre
The Colong Foundation for Wilderness

“The NSW Government must ban the mining of multiple coal seams in drinking water supply catchments to avoid catastrophic damage to these essential resources.

“Gujarat NRE, the Indian coal mining giant, is working up plans for coal mining in the water supply catchments. These plans include mining multiple coal seams at the rebirthed Wongawilli mine (alias the Russel Vale mine), as well as mining under stored waters and near dam walls, said Mr Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

Multiseam mining would not only have dire consequences of water catchments. It can be very risky for miners due to unstable ground, particularly as the coal seams are close together, which increases the risk of rock collapse ”, he said.

“Intensive longwall coal mining currently removes as much coal as possible from one seam, and this causes surface cracking. This cracking generally makes near surface groundwater drop, and that causes swamps and streams to dry up. The dried out swamps then erode away and the dry stream beds only carry water for a short time after rain,” said Mr Muir.

“Key subsidence experts report that the extent of damage from multiseam mining is just too unknown to make accurate predictions. We should not be conducting an extended high-risk experiment on the water supplies of 4.5 million people. Multiseam mining should be banned,” said David Burgess, Total Environment Centre's Natural Areas Campaigner.

“If multiseam coal mining in water supply catchment is not banned outright now; then the damage to our water supply catchments will be so severe that it will be banned later when damage has been done,” Mr Burgess said.

“The Minerals Council of NSW has claimed that water ‘flows back into the river a bit further down'. Putting the most favourable spin on the damage caused will make for interesting reading once multiseam mining starts”, he said.

“The proposed multiseam coal mining would multiply catchment impacts. Streams will be badly tilted sideways causing massive stream bank erosion and streams can even flow backwards”, said Mr Burgess.

For more information contact: 
Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (ah) 
David Burgess (02) 9261 3437