A groundswell of community concern over water and farming will be be vented at a public hearing for Whitehaven’s proposed Vickery coal mine expansion in Boggabri and Gunnedah next week.
The NSW Independent Planning Commission will hold a two-day public hearing on the expansion on Monday and Tuesday after a rush of public registrations caused the NSW Government to delay the single meeting planned last year.
Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods said the Commission needed to listen to people’s deep concerns about the mining proposal.
“The Planning Minister tried to blindside the people of north west NSW by fast tracking the public consultation and imposing an impossible timeframe on the Commission,” she said.
“At a time when farmers are struggling against a crippling drought and brutal heatwaves, the effect of this mining proposal on water, and the amount of water it will consume, will be front of mind for many.
“We are expecting large numbers of concerned locals to attend these public hearings, despite the drought.”
Ms Woods said 18% of the water supply for the mine over its 26 years of operation was expected to come from the Namoi River itself and close to 60% would be captured as run-off on the site, and prevented from entering the river system. 1.
“We are also now seeing fish deaths at Lake Keepit on the Namoi River, upstream of where Whitehaven plans to build their mine extension, which is virtually dry and will not be releasing any more water until rains come. The latest NSW regional drought report says there are cease to flow conditions extending from Keepit to Narrabri,” she said.
“In addition, Vickery would have an unpredictable impact on nearby Kurrumbede, the former home of renowned Australian poet, Dorothea Mackellar.
“Australian champion swimmer Boy Charlton also used to train in the Namoi River near the proposed mine. This region is rich in Australian history, yet the NSW Government appears ready to ignore these priceless values in return for a quick buck from mining royalties.”
The Vickery public hearings will take place over two days, at Boggabri RSL Memorial Club on Monday, February 4 and at Gunnedah Town Hall, on Tuesday, February 5, with both starting at 9am.
1. Vickery coal project Environmental Impact Statement. Appendix B Surface Water. Page 85.