Expert Water Advice Ignored, Conditions Bungled in Maules Ck Mine Decisions

Published: February 12, 2013

Lock the Gate Alliance has accused the Federal Environment Minister of ignoring expert water advice and bungling the conditions in his haste to approve the Maules Ck and Boggabri open-cut coal mines in north-west NSW yesterday.

The advice from the new Independent Expert Scientific Committee has just been released today, at the same time as a major error has been found in the Maules Ck approval.

Meanwhile, protest action has erupted at the Boggabri coal mine this morning, with a protester suspended high in a tree-sit and attached via cable to two bulldozers and two excavators that were clearing the forest for mining.

"The unseemly haste with which Tony Burke approved these mines yesterday is evident in a trillion dollar mistake in the approval - clause 16 requires the miners to pay '$1,500,000 million' instead of $1.5 million for threatened species recovery work," said Carmel Flint, campaign co-ordinator with Lock The Gate Alliance. 

"How fast was the Minister moving yesterday to make an error that is out by a trillion dollars? Why the haste when he had just deferred the decision for three months?

"The advice from the expert scientific committee on the mines which was released today said that the coal mines may lead to cumulative drops of 10m in groundwater resources and cause further damage to endangered bushland.

"The experts also raised concerns about dryland salinity caused by land-clearing for the mines, and said that final voids should not be left after mining but instead back-filled.

"Minister Burke has effectively ignored the advice from the expert committee and approved the mines despite the impacts and uncertainty.  He has allowed a final void - which means a gaping hole that will fill with toxic salty water - despite the experts recommending that such voids be filled.

"Appalling decisions like this by the Minister yesterday will only strengthen the resolve of community groups, who are left with few options but peaceful protest and the courts when their governments ignore their legitimate concerns" she said.

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