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Mining concerns continue to be a focus in letters to the editor. Photo: File
Mining concerns continue to be a focus in letters to the editor. Photo: File

‘Sticking to the facts’

I seem to have ruffled some feathers last month with my comments about the proposed Posco Hume coal mine.

The joy of living in a democracy is that we may all of us make reasoned comments as we see it - I voice my concerns on the critical side effects of another coal mine in the Southern Highlands, and Hume Coal’s Project Director delivers a robust response, which is fair enough.

After all, he’s only doing his job. In fact, he does it so well that if I were a corporate head hunter, I’d seek him out.

And I agree that Hume Coal’s extensive material via website, EIS, and community releases, do all sound good.

A great deal of time, expertise and money has gone into their presentations. But they are not producing empirical evidence.

The documents are great business memorandi but should be seen as wishful, because their promises may end up just that since their conclusions are not evidence based, the assertions not proven.

Show me a coal mine that doesn’t have an adverse effect upon water, air and noise qualities, plus decline in agribusiness and local tourism – despite any best practise endeavour from the miner.

Hume Coal cannot unequivocally guarantee the success of any of their health and safety measures.  End of story.

So, sticking to the facts now (something I was accused of distorting in the Project Director’s letter SHN 12/12/17) – firstly, regarding the size of this project:  If a proposed mine is to require probable mining over at least 50 square kilometres (Hume Project footprint = 5051 hectares), and with a water drawdown between 200-300 square kilometres, is that not a potential mega mine?

Whew, this is not a wombat hole, it’s big enough to have significant impact upon the landscape, and beyond.

Fact two, re coal mine damage to our aquifers and Sydney’s water catchment:  The Project Director’s response regarding storage and disposal of toxic mine water are almost humorous –“all water coming in contact with the coal stockpile is captured for beneficial re-use around the site”.

Yes, we’ve heard how it’ll be treated and where it will be stored, but - beneficial?

Next thing we’ll be bottling this brew full of lead, arsenic, manganese, zinc and nickel amongst other yummies and calling it Hume Cola. Sorry, teensy fatuous comment thrown in, irresistible. Democracy, right.

Fact three, in reply to Hume Coal’s assertion this mine would create jobs for the shire:  The method of pine feather mining proposed requires a high level of automation for safety reasons, so that of course reduces man power.

Low job opportunities then, for a start. It also seems Hume Coal may be planning to import labour as well as or instead of using local, otherwise why does their EIS indicate the “establishment of a temporary construction accommodation village”?  Is this perhaps to be for Koreans on worker visas?

I find it ironical that whilst Robertson Public School has a solar power plan in place thanks to a recent state government grant, coal laden trains will rumble on tracks 10 metres away should this mine proceed.

Let’s hope our state government sees the ludicrous side of this too and steps up to veto another coal mine within this agricultural shire.

For if we don’t have this hope, we are looking down a long black tunnel indeed.

That’s a fact.

Alexandra Springett



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