Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Mountains of damaging evidence – Colong Foundation

"The Colong Foundation’s recently released report (The impact of coal mining on the Gardens of Stone) contains mountains of evidence on the damage being caused in a proposed Gardens of Stone reserve.  The reserve proposal has been specifically configured to allow continued underground coal mining, provided the values of the area are protected,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.,

“Our very reasonable approach has for years been misrepresented by the coal industry as extremist.  In reply to these attacks, we decided it was time to report on the extent of damage that coal mining has caused to this very sensitive environment,” he said.

“Some of the hard evidence that Mr Len Ashworth in his Lithgow Mercury editorial of 30 April claims is sadly missing in the current debate over coal mining impacts can be freely obtained on the Colong,” Mr Muir said. 

“It is the coal industry’s reporting of environmental damage that is soft around the edges.  The industry understates its environmental damage when reporting to government,” said Mr Muir.

“One example of poor environmental reporting involved the disappearance of vast amounts of water underground following longwall coal mining by Springvale Colliery.  For several months about ten Olympic swimming pools of mine effluent water daily disappeared down a large crack that developed in a stream bed due to coal mining.  The water that disappeared each day was reported as being pooled 60-70 metres underground within the bedding partings - that’s one big underground lake! Yet it took over two years for this situation to be properly reported to the regulatory authorities.  One mining company consultant who then studied this issue, identified ‘no adverse impacts’, which seems to be a rather odd conclusion,” Mr Muir said.

“In another example, cracks in a streambed are described by a mining company to the regulatory authorities as ‘minor and the evidence is being gathered in the form of sequential photographs is demonstrating that the cracks are rapidly weathering and filling with silt.’ Yet there is absolutely no evidence which supports the assertion that cracking will fill up naturally and stream flow will resume in due course. Surprisingly a monitoring report I received yesterday reported that a stream flow weir on Kangaroo Creek that might have established the necessary evidence was removed after mining, apparently on the assumption that the flows were not coming back!” he said.

“The mountain of evidence in the Colong Foundation report builds to an overwhelming case for action.  The proposed state conservation area should be reserved to facilitate better environmental protection, particularly for the swamps, cliffs, the sandstone pinnacles, and water flows and purity.  It is easily possible to protect this area to a much greater extent than currently and doing so may even create jobs”, Mr Muir said. 

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