Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Coalpac: Government department seeks to subvert Coalpac mining assessment process

Lithgow Environment Group
The Colong Foundation for Wilderness
Blue Mountains Conservation Society
Nature Conservation Council of NSW

Statements by a NSW state government department suggest that it may be seeking ways of manoeuvring around the Department of Planning and Environment and the Planning Assessment Commission to breathe new life into the previously rejected Coalpac open-cut coal mine project near Lithgow.

In its recent assessment of the revised Coalpac mine (20/5/14), the NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Resources and Energy (DRE) stated the proposal would allow, “both Cullen Valley and Invincible Mines to reopen and to operate for a further four years and for Coalpac to potentially develop an expanded project to continue production after this time.1

Lithgow Environment Group President and local medical practitioner, Dr Richard Stiles says that for opponents of the mine, such a statement raises significant public concerns.

“The original Coalpac Consolidated Project was fully assessed and then rejected by a PAC and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure. “

“Now the DRE is suggesting that Coalpac could resurrect its original proposal via a staged back-door process.”

“This seriously undermines public confidence in the state’s planning and assessment processes being able to reject substandard mining operations.”

“We need a system that can balance the benefits and costs of mining operations”, says Dr Stiles.  “In this case, the social and environmental impacts of Coalpac’s proposal are substantial and many of the company’s consultant assessments have been shown to be seriously inaccurate.”

“If mining companies are allowed to use procedural tactics to manoeuvre around decisions that go against them, then this leaves NSW with little capacity to reject adverse mining operations.”

“We need the PAC to be able to recognise the fundamental flaws in this company and its mining operations, and uphold previous rigorous assessments in rejecting this mine. “

“Our state can ill afford such unconscionable departmental and corporate behaviour.  Coalpac is a sick dog – it should be allowed to die.”

Media Contacts: Dr Richard Stiles: 0427 525484   James Tremain  (Nature Conservation Council): 0419 272 254