Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

The Lithgow Region at risk

“Approval of the Coalpac open-cut expansion plan would be the death knell for electricity generation using coal sourced from underground mines in the Lithgow Region.  The consequence of such a decision would be devastating, as it would see extensive strips of beautiful escarpment scenery turned into heaps of rock waste,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The coal around Lithgow can be mined by open-cut methods only in thin strips where the coal seams extend underground out beyond the sandstone plateaus.  Such mining replaces the scenic forested hill slopes below the sandstone cliffs and pagodas with a moonscape, while generating far less employment than underground mining methods,” Mr Muir said.

“As many Lithgow residents know, the Wallerawang and Mt Piper power plants have for over 25 years sourced its coal needs mostly from underground mines.  Last year Centennial Coal published its plan to provide all the coal needed for these power plants, up to 6.5Mt/yr, from the Springvale Colliery, an underground mine”, said Mr Muir.

“The Coalpac and Centennial proposals give Lithgow a choice. It can support:
Coalpac’s open-cut proposal and initiate the systematic destruction of spectacular forest scenery along the edges of the Gardens of Stone; or,
Centennial Coal’s plan, enjoy good jobs and avoid having a bad conscience over what will otherwise happen to your wonderful backyard,” he said.

“This important decision should not be influenced by the pecuniary interests of politicians.  The NSW Planning Assessment Commission was set up to deal with the problems of vested interest and political deals.  So the determination of the Coalpac proposal is also a test case for the Commission because of the prominent attacks that have been made on it and the high stakes resting on the outcome”, Mr Muir said. 

“The Colong Foundation has worked for many years to protect the wonderful Gardens of Stone and we believe that strip mining tens of kilometres of forest below the beautiful ranges of the western side of the Blue Mountains would be a tragic mistake,” he said.

“It would be criminal to allow the children of Lithgow to grow up witnessing the conversion of a forest wonderland into a wasteland.  To allow open-cut mine in indifferent country is bad enough, but to ruin the Gardens of Stone would be intolerable.  The choice for Lithgow could not be more clear: reject the Coalpac proposal and retain the skilled jobs that go with underground mining,” said Mr Muir.

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