Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Springvale Mine Plan reduction is a step in the right direction

A decision on a new Springvale mine[1] extraction plan was published today that constrains mining to just two longwalls panels of coal.  Another longwall panel may only be accessed by Centennial Coal following consideration by the Independent Monitoring Panel.  Further longwalls are expected to be cancelled to protect nationally threatened swamps located outside the mine’s approved impact zone.

“This adaption of the mine plan has been achieved through an Independent Monitoring Panel that advised on mine extraction plan decisions made by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.  This is a new deal.  We hope this approach puts an end to non-adaptive coal mining that has seen many nationally endangered swamps destroyed on Newnes Plateau and elsewhere, said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

The Independent Monitoring Panel, whose role extends to advise on swamp impact avoidance, believes the termination of mining at the end of longwall 421 may still not be enough to minimise impacts on Gang Gang East Swamp.  The Colong Foundation believes longwall 421 should be shortened or cancelled to stop the damage.  This would also protect the beautiful Gang Gang Waterfall located downstream and outside the mine’s impact area, Mr Muir said.

“If far-field impacts are unauthorised by the Springvale development consent, then loss of flows over Gang Gang Waterfall is unauthorised and mining of longwall 421 should cease”, Mr Muir added.

“Dramatic declines in groundwater levels have occurred within Sunnyside East Swamp and Carne West Swamps.  Now Gang Gang South West Swamp is losing water and flows downstream over the waterfall are declining.  Risk ranking for swamp damage has been increased to high by Centennial Coal but the Independent Monitoring Panel believes that it could be increased to extreme,” Mr Muir said.

“Another $2 million has been added to the swamp offset bond bringing the total bond to $6 million, and new studies have been commissioned to trace groundwater lost from the swamps.  I strongly suspect the huge flows of mine water are where these water losses will be discovered,” said Mr Muir.

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


[1] Springvale mine is located north of Lithgow and extracts coal from under Newnes Plateau in the Gardens of Stone region.