11 August, 2014


Capertee Valley Alliance Inc.



“Centennial Coal’s proposal to expand the Airly Mine in the Capertee Valley by allowing for a 1.8 metre vertical subsidence is a far cry from the current agreed maximum of 125 mm and makes a mockery of the meaning of a State Conservation Area and also of responsible planning and mining laws”, said Dr  Haydn Washington, Secretary of the Colo Committee.

“This proposal has the potential to seriously damage the Mugii Murum-ban State Conservation Area, which due to its internationally recognised geological features, is proposed for addition to the World Heritage Area when responsible mining ceases”, said Dr Washington.

Community groups and NGOs object to Centennial Coal’s Airly Colliery Modification 3 for its failure to:

·         provide an assessment of how the community will benefit economically
·         take into account the lower than forecast demand for domestic coal-fired electricity (The Australia Institute, 2014)
·         consider impacts on tourism – the Capertee Valley is an internationally recognised Important Bird Area. As one of the 50 top birdwatching places in the world it attracts local, interstate and international visitors and is home to the endangered Regent Honeyeater
·         provide plans to prevent visual blight from prominent waste and product heaps in a popular tourist area
·         consider the critical importance of the continued availability of clean, safe groundwater for agricultural enterprises as well as other uses.  To date there has been no baseline study of aquifers.
·         consider downstream impacts of mine effluent including leakage from waste dumps and product dumps on the adjacent Wollemi World Heritage Area
·         see the inappropriateness of continuing to mine low grade coal for one year under the old regulatory framework that permits subsidence of 1.8 metres
·         uphold its commitment to take only half the coal under the whole of the State Conservation Area to protect biodiversity and avoid pagoda and cliff collapses as well as unique areas such as ‘The Grotto’ and heath land supporting endangered plant species. . Subsidence of approximately 1.5 metres in nearby Baal Bone Colliery caused 124 cliff collapses in 2 years (1993 Airly Commission of Inquiry, Department of Mineral Resources)
·         adequately identify or protect heritage listed oil shale ruins in its mining area

“Airly mine was placed in care and maintenance from just before Christmas 2012 to earlier this year and nearby Wallerawang Power Station has recently been placed in care and maintenance so questions have to be asked about the financial viability of Centennial’s proposal for extension,” said Donna Upton, Secretary of the Capertee Valley Alliance.

“The community does not want to see the long standing and viable agricultural industry and the flourishing ecotourism industry of the Capertee Valley negatively impacted by the expansion of a mining operation which is likely to be short term and financially marginal,” she said.

Follows is Capertee Valley Alliance Position Statement regarding the application by Centennial Airly Coal for and extension of time and known as Environmental Assessment (EA)  ‘MOD3’

Capertee Valley Alliance Inc. Position:

In our view, the documents exhibited in support of the MOD 3, namely the EA and the Subsidence Assessment do not provide sufficient certainty for the community that the subsidence predictions will remain at the levels set out in the Subsidence Assessment. Accordingly, it is imperative that if the MOD 3 is approved conditions of consent such as those set out are imposed to make it clear that the maximums currently allowed under the 1993 Consent are no longer acceptable.

Whilst we do not concede that the modification should be granted on any condition, if it is to be, it should be conditional on subsidence not exceeding 125mm, and extraction not exceeding the previously limits, as referred to by Keith Muir.

Monitoring of water usage from surface and groundwater sources, and its return to the environment by an independent company nominated by the Office of Water and paid for by Centennial should be a condition of any company nominated by the Office of Water and paid for by Centennial should be a condition of any approval of the modification application. All monitoring results should be made public.

Capertee Valley Alliance Inc.

Capertee Valley photo blog - http://caperteevalleyphotos.blogspot.com.au/

Photo – Some of the many hundreds of pagoda rocks on Mt Airly and Genowlan Mountain which could be destroyed by subsidence bought about by mining.

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