Lock the Gate Alliance will use its presentation to the Planning and Assessment Commission for the Warkworth coal mine expansion project to expose false and misleading claims made by the Minerals Council, Department of Planning and Rio Tinto about the effect of rejecting the proposal.
The PAC has been asked to conduct a second review of the project following the repeal of the notorious “resource significance” clause of the State’s Mining Planning Policy, resetting the balance between environmental, social and economic considerations for coal mines.
The new regulation came into effect last week. The second review is an opportunity to correct the error of the previous Planning and Assessment Commission which in March, under the previous policy, recommended approval of the project and relocation of the village of Bulga. A public hearing for the review is scheduled to begin in Singleton this morning.
As well as demonstrating that the mine is not in the public interest because of its impacts on a rare woodland and the nearby village of Bulga, Lock the Gate has conducted detailed analysis of Rio Tinto’s Annual Report and mine operations plan to explode the threat that failing to approve the project will lead to the loss of 1,300 jobs.
Lock the Gate Alliance Hunter Coordinator, Steve Phillips, said, “Rio Tinto, the Minerals Council and the Department of Planning have all argued that this project needs to be approved to allow the mine to continue after this year. We have looked at the available coal and the extraction rates from the mining complex and will reveal today that this claim is simply false.
“There is enough coal at Warkworth to continue mining there well beyond the current expiry pf the current consent, in 2021. We estimate that the coal reserves they have approval to mine can keep their workforce busy to around 2030. To say that anyone’s jobs hang on this approval is mischievous and false, and we think that the Planning and Assessment Commission, the workforce and the community have been appallingly misled.
“Though it is shocking that the Government has apparently played along with misrepresentations of the remaining coal reserve at Warkworth mine, this is in fact good news. It means there is no compelling reason to even consider giving approval to this project, which will clear a large proportion of the remaining extent of an endangered woodland and make life in Bulga unliveable.”
“The Planning and Assessment Commission must now complete the eleventh hour rescue of Bulga and reject this project, safe in the knowledge that nobody’s jobs depend on their actions.”