MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Letter provided to the International Climate Change Task Force in Sydney on November 15th 2004

Published by MAC on 2004-11-15

Letter provided to the International Climate Change Task Force in Sydney on November 15th 2004

Dear members of the International Climate Change Task Force,

We are writing to you as members and supporters of communities affected by coal mining in New South Wales.

We wish to alert you to the problems we are facing – problems about which NSW Premier Bob Carr, a member of your Task Force, has done little or nothing.

We share the Task Force’s concern at the alarming increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the threat of global warming. But given these concerns, we believe there is a degree of hypocrisy inherent in Premier Carr’s words and deeds.

Coal mining is one of the key reasons that Australia is such a major contributor to the world's greenhouse gas emissions problem.

Far from seeking to phase out or reduce coal mining, Premier Carr recently announced plans for new coal-fired power stations that will lock in regressive and polluting mining and energy industries for decades to come.

Five new coal mines and 8 expansions of existing mines are currently being constructed in NSW, and 11 new mines are being proposed. The offshore emissions from NSW coal are nearly as high as Australia's entire stationary energy sector emissions.

Open-cut mining in the Hunter region, which covers 68,000 hectares, interferes with groundwater systems and base flows to rivers; produces surface water salinity and acidity; releases large amounts of methane; destroys critical areas of remnant vegetation; and creates unmanageable dust problems.

The subsidence caused by longwall mining, largely in Sydney's south-west, can be devastating to the local environment: sandstone river beds crack, resulting in huge water losses, killing fish and wreaking permanent ecosystem damage. The Central Coast region is also affected by subsidence and damage to groundwater systems.

The task of rehabilitating these areas is a very long term one, and the contribution of coal mining companies to this effort is entirely inadequate. The consequences for our waterways and biodiversity could be irreversible unless urgent action is taken.

Our so-called "green Premier" is doing nothing to halt the coal corporations' destruction of the Hunter and their huge contribution to global warming. As a matter of urgency, Premier Carr should commit to undoing the damage his Government has caused, or else he should be required to justify his continuing presence on this Task Force.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Rhiannon Greens MLC, NSW Parliament
Ian Cohen Greens MLC, NSW Parliament
Wendy Bowman Minewatch
Christine Phelps Anvill Hill Project Watch Association
Chris Bowman Bickham Coalmine Action Group
Jan Davis Hunter Environment Lobby
John Drinan Singleton
Jean Whittaker Mandalong Progress Association
Kathe Robinson Georges River Environmental Action Team
Wilma Corbet Central Coast Minestop
Bev Smiles Mudgee District Environment Group
Steve Phillips Rising Tide
Cate Faehrmann Nature Conservation Council of NSW

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