Landholders around Maules Creek and Harparary areas will today lodge objections to a proposal by Idemitsu to construct a new borefield near the Namoi River to supply water to its Boggabri coal mine, after the miner found it did not have sufficient water to meet its demand.
Idemitsu applied to modify its development consent for the Boggabri mine to construct the additional bores, and public comment on the proposal closes today.
To fill an annual expected deficit of 1015-1570ML, the company proposes a new borefield near the Namoi River, but they do not hold sufficient water licences yet to construct the borefield, and local water users are objecting to the unacceptable impacts the additional strain on water resources is likely to have.
Peter Watson’s farm is downstream of the borefield, which will draw down groundwater in the aquifer and reduce flow in Namoi River itself.
Mr Watson said, “This application highlights the way mining companies are able to avoid proper scrutiny of their mining plans and the way the Department of Planning and associated regulatory bodies are duped by resource companies.
“The Planning Assessment Committee are too eager to approve this type of mining project and seem to ignore the concerns of local residents and independent experts. Environmental issues are less important than tonnes of coal produced, tax and royalty dollars and jobs for FIFO workers. Once this and similar projects finish the dollars and jobs will disappear and those same concerned residents will be left to deal with the environmental issues outlined by environmental experts and brushed aside by the PAC.
“As a groundwater irrigator, the open ended planning process allowed for these projects means to me that less and less water will be available for domestic water supplies and food and fibre production and more freshwater will be used for dust suppression on roads around the mine.
“Why do we allow the regulators to waste our most precious resource?"
Lock the Gate Alliance is also lodging an objection today. Policy Coordinator Georgina Woods said, “Let’s get something straight, Idemitsu has an obligation under its mine approval to make sure it had enough water for all stages of the project to adjust the scale of mining operations on site to match its available water supply. It’s just not okay for them to get approval to mine more water out of this area: we’ve got to conserve it.
“The Government gave this company approval to increase their production three years ago. They shouldn’t have done that. There’s just not enough water.”
“We urgently need stronger and clearer rules to stop mines coming near major rivers and streams, and stop them drawing down groundwater and using too much of our precious fresh water to wash their dirty coal.”