Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Environment Minister Burke rules out mining under endangered swamps - for now...

“Environment Minister Tony Burke has protected the best remaining intact nationally endangered swamps in the Gardens of Stone reserve proposal for the moment, but also offered the miners a further process that could permit longwall coal mining under them at a later date.  It’s a decision in favour of conservation today, but could be reversed tomorrow, which is not the way to make decisions,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Mining by Springvale Colliery can subsequently occur under the Federal environmental approval provided that Centennial Coal proves there will not be severe impacts on the Nationally Endangered peat swamps.  We hope Minister Burke will rely on peer reviewed independent science to make that call and not consultant reports funded by the mining company.  Centennial Coal’s consultants’ would only report that the swamps on Newnes Plateau can be mined with minimal damage, and any facts to the contrary ignored”, he said.

“For example, in the Springvale development proposal to the Federal Government, Centennial predicted that any minor cracking caused by coal mining would “self-heal”. This is nonsense! Centennial’s experts have no evidence of self-healing cracks.  There is, however, evidence that mine related cracking in the Gardens of Stone below East Wolgan Swamp can capture a whopping 14 megalitres of water a day!  Centennial experts didn’t mention that in their proposal to the Federal Government”, said Mr Muir.  

“Minister Burke has only ruled out severe damage to the swamps.  Centennial is apparently only required by the consent to publish a report that states its Springvale operation shall cause only minor and temporary damage to the nationally endangered swamps to be allowed to mine under the swamps.  If Minister Burke wants to save the swamps he has to have evidence lined up to rebut Centennial’s claims”, said Mr Muir.

“You don’t have to be Nostradamus to know that further mining consultant reports will state the coal mining at Springvale will not have a significant environmental impact on the Nationally Endangered swamps”, Mr Muir said.

“A Departmental media release last October in relation to the mining damage in the area explained that the “Australian Government takes environmental protection seriously, and will not tolerate companies causing needless damage to the environment.*”  “Minister Burkes action does not match the rhetoric of his Department.  We now know that needless damage is anything less than severe damage.  You could hardly call that a great environmental leap forward!” Mr Muir said.

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

*Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population, the Arts and Communities, 
media release, 21 October, 2011, Mining company to pay for environmental damage.