On Tuesday, April 2, the Independent Planning Commission Panel met to hear presentations from environmental groups and members of the public on the proposal that there be a significant extension of mining operations at the Moolarben coal mine near Mudgee.
The primary concerns of local residents and groups included unsustainable water use, destruction of biodiversity, and the increase in greenhouse emissions when the coal is eventually used.
That the expansion of a coal mine in an industry that is so obviously in decline should even be considered is ludicrous.
To commit water to coal mining, especially when water is in critically short supply throughout the state, is illogical, bordering on criminal.
An extension of a coal mine in today's environmental and economic climate is not the way to a sustainable future, and certainly not a reason to destroy priceless natural assets and to squander and divert priceless resources.
The plan is to increase the output of coal from the Moolarben mine to 22 million tonnes until 2038. Obviously this output will contribute considerably to greenhouse gases, global warming and climate change. To permit such an output in the face of the scientific evidence which recommends we stop burning coal would be irresponsible.
Coal mines need water. To commit water to coal mining, especially when water is in critically short supply throughout the state, is illogical, bordering on criminal.
This is especially so when it is used to perpetuate an activity which in itself contributes to further environmental destruction through global warming.
Any mine expansion has the potential to affect biodiversity. As usual, biodiversity offsets are suggested. Unfortunately, there is no offset available for the consumption of vast quantities of water, millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, and the transformation of the landscape.
When considering this proposal, it would be prudent to consider the judgement handed down in the case of the Rocky Hill coal mine, which was rejected on the grounds of its potential to influence climate change.
The proposed Moolarben modification requests an increase of three million tonnes per annum, which is three times that of the Rocky Hill proposal. It is reasonable to assume that the Moolarben proposal should receive the same verdict. Any inconsistency of judgement will not go unnoticed.
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