New coal mining applications would entrench damage to Sydney and Wollongong’s drinking water catchments for decades

Published: January 30, 2017

Lock the Gate has condemned two applications by coal mining companies, revealed today, to further endanger NSW drinking water catchments.

South32 has applied to further expand the controversial Dendrobium mine under Sydney and Wollongong’s drinking water supply.

And Centennial Coal has applied to increase the pollution load of waste water which its Springvale coal mine dumps straight into a creek that feeds the Cox’s River, in the upper reaches of Sydney’s drinking water catchment.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson, Georgina Woods, said: We know that mining inside our biggest city’s drinking water catchment Special Area is not safe. The government agency charged with managing our water is consistently warning of unacceptable risks.

WaterNSW objected to South32’s most recent longwall expansion at Dendrobium, stating that, “the risks of the proposal to the Sydney water supply and the Sydney catchment area are unacceptable, and that the uncertainties associated with the risks are unacceptably high."

Now the company is applying for approval to mine two large new areas next to Sydney and Illawarra drinking water dams. Damage caused by longwall mining at Dendrobium includes water pollution, dry creeks and the loss of endangered water-filtering swamps.

“If we lock in extensive further longwall mining next to our dams until the middle of the century, we are courting disaster,” Ms Woods said.

Centennial Coal had its Springvale coal mine extension approved in June 2015 on the condition it would meet salinity limits within two years. By June this year, the company is meant to limit the salinity of the water the company dumps into the Coxs River.

The company is now brazenly applying to backtrack and remove the condition to prevent rising salinity in the river that feeds Warragamba dam.

“It’s bad enough having mining operations undermining the creeks and rivers that provide Sydney’s drinking water. To give them permission to pollute that water year after year is just about as negligent as you could get.

“The Coalition Government was elected promising to protect drinking water catchments from coal mining. We’re calling on the new Premier to make good on this promise by putting our drinking water and public health ahead of coal companies,” Ms Woods said.

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