Hunter Valley vignerons are furious at the new owner of two of the region's biggest mines after a botched blast on Friday again sent a cloud of pollution over local farmland.
At 11:53 on Friday morning, a blast at Yancoal’s Mount Thorley Warkworth mine sent a huge cloud of orange dust over nearby farmland. A picture of the incident is attached.
Local landholders have written to the Department of Planning saying Yancoal should be investigated and its licence suspended until such time that they can demonstrate that they have the competence to conduct blasting operations without creating environmental harm.
Antony Bainton of Bainton Family Wines said, “This is not an isolated incident. Yancoal has demonstrated a total lack of respect for the health and livelihoods of its neighbours.
“These mines are huge and they are causing pollution that is damaging people’s health. The least the Government could do is ensure they are complying with their licences. We need better protection.”
Broke vigneron Stewart Ewan said, “The Broke Fordwich wine region hosts thriving wineries but we don’t have sufficient protection from the coal mines. We get blanketed by pollution at times, and the land mapped five years ago as a critical industry cluster for our industry is not protected from expanding coal mines.
“The physical and economic damage caused by open cut mining remains a serious blight on our environment. The air quality in the Hunter over the summer and autumn has been terrible. We’ve been getting frequent alerts that it breaches the standard, but what’s being done to change it?”
Georgina Woods, spokesperson for Lock the Gate Alliance said, “We think it’s time to choose action to safeguard the Hunter wine industry, and that means enforcing environmental conditions and ensuring our industry is safe from being gobbled up by expanding coal mines.”