Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Planning recommends approval of Coalpac Mine in Gardens of Stone Region

The Department of Planning and Environment has today recommended approval of the
Coalpac open-cut mine in the Gardens of Stone region.  Conservation groups fear this recommendation will see open-cut mining continue, threatening the region’s internationally significant pagoda landscapes.  The Department’s recommendation will now be considered by the Planning Assessment Commission at a date yet to be set.

“The recommendation by the Department of Planning and Environment is the wrong decision.  It puts at risk the region’s padoga landscapes, particularly its forests.  The Department has done a backflip on their original decision that recommended refusal of Coalpac’s previous mine plans,” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness revealed.

“Coalpac’s new mine modifications are claimed to provide cheaper coal to Lithgow’s power plants but they only do so if the environmental costs are ignored.  The nearby underground mines actually provide coal at the least cost when you properly take into account the cost to the environment and the community,” Mr Muir said.

“It is only when the Gardens of Stone region’s natural and cultural heritage is valued at zero that open-cut mining becomes cheaper than underground coal mining”, said Mr Muir.

“The engineers who designed Lithgow’s power plants and developed the underground mines to supply them with coal achieved a better balance.  Now with privatisation of the energy market these non-market environmental and cultural values and being largely ignored,” he said.

“BioBanking and environmental offsets ignore the internationally significant padoga landscapes that led to the rejection of the previous Coalpac proposal.  Pagodas and their forests are not replaced by sticking a few seedlings in the ground or through buying up land elsewhere”, Mr Muir said.

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