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Eleven years later, IPC finally flushes Hume Coal down gurgler due to threat posed to water, communities

Lock the Gate Alliance warmly welcomes the NSW Independent Planning Commission's decision to reject POSCO’s Hume Coal and rail project in the state’s Southern Highlands.

The IPC’s decision that the mine should not be built due in part to the threat it posed underground, surface, and drinking water, followed an earlier recommendation by the Planning Department that the project should not proceed. 

The IPC also found the mine would have had an unacceptable impact on cultural heritage, including First Nations’ heritage, and biodiversity, and that the negative impacts vastly outweighed any economic benefit.

Peter Martin, from Coal Free Southern Highlands, said he was relieved the battle against POSCO’s proposal was finally over.

“This catastrophe has been going on for 11 years and 11 days,” he said.

“We shouldn’t have had to fight for so long against this coal mine which was always a crazy proposition from day one.

“POSCO should really thank us because we’ve saved them more than five hundred million dollars that would have been sunk into an ultimately stranded asset because the world is quickly phasing out fossil fuels to avoid catastrophic global warming.”

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Nic Clyde said the outcome was the right one.

“We’ve known for years that this mine posed unacceptable risks to water resources. It’s a relief to see water security take its proper priority in this instance,” he said.

If it had been built, the Hume Coal project would have been responsible for more than 106 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over its lifespan.

“Increasing greenhouse emissions on this scale is not consistent with the Southern Highland’s push towards sustainable development and it was great to see the IPC recognise in its decision [page 61] that doing so would not be justified,” Mr Clyde said. 

“When combined with POSCO’s plan to use an untested unconventional mining method, whereby it would reinject mine wastewater into the Sydney drinking water catchment area, it was clearly necessary for IPC to reject this coal mine.

“It should not have taken 11 years for the NSW Government to realise that.

“Lock the Gate Alliance pays tribute today to the hard work and sustained campaigning from local landholders, community groups and individuals who have fought hard to protect the Highlands from POSCO’s proposed mine. 

“We now urge POSCO to unequivocally accept the IPC’s decision and start a conversation with the Southern Highlands community about selling its properties to locals for the preferred land uses identified by the IPC: rural-residential, small-scale agriculture, and tourism.”

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