Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association and the Lock The Gate Alliance have called on NSW Planning Minister Prue Goward to cancel the assessment process for a proposed expansion of Rio Tinto's Warkworth coal mine in the Hunter Valley.
The plans have already been rejected by two NSW courts, but Rio Tinto has resubmitted its application and the assessment process has started again. The NSW Planning Department, notorious for its close relationship with mining companies, is accepting public submissions on the “new” mine application until today.
“We have beaten Rio Tinto's proposed mine in court twice, and we are determined to beat it again” said John Krey, Vice President of the BMPA. “Two senior NSW judges have ruled that expanding the Warkworth coal mine would do more harm than good. It would ruin our village and destroy the lives of local people, while nearly all of the mining profits would go overseas. ”
“But Rio Tinto will not respect the umpire's decision, and they refuse to leave our community in peace. They have simply resubmitted their mining plans, and the Planning Department has accepted them. We urge Minister Goward to intervene in this process and restore natural justice for our community,” said Mr Krey.
“The Warkworth mine expansion has already been assessed, and it was deemed unacceptable,” said Steve Phillips, Hunter Valley coordinator for the Lock The Gate Alliance. “There is no reason to go thorugh all of this again. The people of Bulga have earned a break. Why must we make submissions on a coal mine project that has already been through this same assessment process and been rejected in court?
“The Department needs to be reminded that it's there to serve the people of New South Wales and that the public interest should be front and centre of their decision-making. They should not have even accepted this application.
"Mining companies say they want 'certainty,' but what they really want is a guarantee they will get their way every time. Having had the regulations rigged in their favour, Rio Tinto are trying for a third time to get this project through, with the backing of the Department of Planning. That's not certainty, that's not a fair go, that's just bullying," Mr Phillips concluded.
John Krey, Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association: 0419 247 682
Steve Phillips, Lock The Gate Alliance: 0437 275 119
February 2012: Warkworth Extension Project approved by NSW Planning Assessment Commission.
March 2012: Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association appeals the WEP approval in the Land and Environment Court.
April 2013: Land and Environment Court overturns the approval of the WEP, ruling that the impacts of the project outweigh the benefits.
April 2013: Rio Tinto appeals the L&E Court decision to the NSW Supreme Court (Court of Appeal). NSW Planning Minister joins the appeal a week later.
1 April 2014: Anticipating a second court loss, Rio Tinto resubmits the mine application under the name Warkworth Continuation Project.
7 April 2014: L&E Court ruling is upheld by the Supreme Court (Court of Appeal).
8 August 2014: Six week public submission period closes on the “new” mining application.