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Concerns over Bylong coal mine to feature at World Heritage meeting in Azerbaijan

The threat the deeply unpopular proposed Bylong coal mine poses to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is set to be discussed at the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Azerbaijan on Sunday.

A report prepared for the meeting by the World Heritage Centre cites the Bylong coal project among a series of developments on the perimeter of the GBMWHA that have been raised with the Centre in the last two years as having the potential to affect its “outstanding universal value.”

The Australian Government’s response to the report so far has insisted the Bylong coal mine poses no risk to the World Heritage Area, but the Centre notes that “it is of concern that several mining projects exist in the vicinity of the property and that some mining activities have resulted in impacts on the property, as evidenced by the incident at the Clarence Colliery” referring to the collapse of a coal waste stockpile into the Wollangambe River four years ago.  

A draft decision has been prepared for the Committee’s meeting that includes a request that Australia “undertake an assessment of potential cumulative impacts of all existing and planned mining projects in the vicinity of the property through a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) or a similar mechanism.”

Lock the Gate Alliance has urged Australia to support the draft decision and undertake the recommended assessment to ensure the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is conserved for future generations. 

“A situation like this and a proposal to mine a spectacular place like the Bylong Valley calls for some perspective. We wouldn’t want to compromise the integrity of a World Heritage Area for the sake of a single, short-term coal mine,” said spokesperson Georgina Woods.

“We urge the Australian Government to agree to conduct the cumulative impact assessment that has been recommended and look into the impact of existing and proposed coal mining on the outskirts of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area."

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