Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Airly Mine extension threatens the World Heritage Area and Mugii Murum-ban SCA

The Planning Assessment Commission shall soon hand down its review report for the proposed Airly Mine extension.  The Colong Foundation is increasingly concerned that major failings associated with this proposal will not be addressed:- cliff falls, and poor solid and liquid waste management.

“The proposed new 38 hectare waste heap above the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is proposed as a tailings dam without an engineered dam wall to contain the tailings.  Such unconfined waste heaps cause major environmental destruction when they collapse, which they do (e.g. Centennial’s Clarence mine, July 2, 2015). Without a properly engineered dam structure Centennial’s proposed waste heap really is an ecological disaster waiting to happen.  This alone should see the proposal rejected,” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness said.

“I give fair warning.  If the PAC recommends approval of this 38 hectare waste heap without a dam wall, I will tar the PAC with the same brush as Centennial Coal, and everyone else who has been involved with the recommendation of it.  Fair’s fair.  You will all be acting in an environmentally irresponsible manner,” Mr Muir said.

“Second, the proposal supported by the Department of Planning and Environment (DoPE) to allow cliff falls in the Muggi Murum-ban State Conservation Area would also be irresponsible.  Cliff falls should not be permitted by development consent in NPWS reserves.  Development consents should prohibit cliff falls in reserves.  It’s the Department of Planning and Environment, not the Department of Planning against the Environment, so it should prevent cliff falls, not allow for them in NPWS reserves”, said Mr Muir.

“Third, the waste water management system at the Airly Mine is predominantly used for water storage, so the mine’s storages are full of polluted water.  This is because the clean water is diverted into the mine waste water storages.  This is another toxic management strategy that maximises pollution risks, that could be near-zero if waste water were properly managed at the mine,” he said.

“The claim by Centennial Coal that “our activities will not deliver a negative net effect upon the environment[1]” is wildly optimistic.  My statements above give a clearer picture of the potential environmental impacts of this mine extension proposal”, Mr Muir said. 

For more information contact: Keith Muir 0412 791 404 (mob)


[1] Conclusion of the address by Bob Miller, Manager, Airly Mine, 23 Sept. 2015 at PAC public hearing in Lithgow.