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FOI documents reveal proposed coal mine would cause Bylong river to “dry up”

Documents released under freedom of information laws reveal that the Department of Primary Industries warned last year that the proposed Bylong coal mine could lead to the Bylong River ‘drying up’ (Document 30).

The proposed mine would be the first ever in the secluded Bylong Valley, between Denman and Mudgee, 200km north-west of Sydney.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “It is completely unacceptable for the NSW Government to approve a coal mine that will cause a river to dry up.

“This is an extraordinary and unacceptable impact that should now trigger urgent action from the NSW Government to reject this mine and step in to protect our river systems.

Despite the advice from DPI about the impacts on the river system, the NSW Department of Planning has since recommended the Bylong coal mine for approval.

As reported by the ABC, the DPI state in the released documents that the Bylong mine “would potentially result in significant sections of the Bylong River to cease flowing” (Document 1).

They have previously warned that the ‘worst case scenario’ is likely from the project and that water supply will be diminished to other authorised water users but this is the first public admission that the Bylong River may dry up.

However, this stark advice is not included in the Preliminary Assessment Report that was prepared by the Department of Planning.  Instead, the report says “the project is unlikely to significantly affect groundwater and surface water resources, water users or the environment.”

“The public and the Independent Planning Commission have not been given frank advice about the dramatic impact this mine is expected to have on the Bylong River” Ms Woods said.

“It’s very disturbing to see that advice from the DPI about impacts on the river has not been included in the preliminary assessment report.  

“We’re calling for an urgent investigation into how such a devastating impact on an important river system has effectively been ignored and hidden” she said.

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