The NSW Perrottet Government’s recommendation in favour of Glencore’s controversial expansion of its Mount Owen Glendell coal mine shows the government is willing to sacrifice the irreplaceable heritage of the Hunter Valley to a multinational coal mining company.
Despite an Aboriginal Heritage protection application to the Federal Government still underway, and over the top of warnings from the state’s Heritage Council about irreversible impacts reminiscent of the Juukan Gorge outrage, the Planning Department this morning referred the expansion project to the Independent Planning Commission, and described it as “approvable.”
At the centre of the controversy is the colonial Ravensworth Homestead, which Glencore has proposed relocating so it can mine the remainder of the former Ravensworth Estate, which the Wonnarua Plains Clan has identified as a site of colonial violence.
Even the department’s own Assessment Report (Point 198, page 39) cites the NSW Heritage Council’s strong opposition to the proposal:
“The Heritage Council does not support the relocation of the Ravensworth Homestead… as it considers the relocation would result in irreversible loss of its identified high and exceptional significance in the form of its intact fabric, setting, views, and meaning. It believes that either relocation option would result in an unacceptable, even catastrophic, heritage impact.”
The Heritage Council also recommended a “precautionary approach… around areas of contested Aboriginal history and heritage, particularly following recent incidents in other states involving mining and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage.”
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said the Independent Planning Commission’s decision on the mining project, due in 12 weeks, was a line in the sand for the Hunter Valley’s past and future.
“The independent Heritage Council warned the government that the harm of this mining project would be irreversible, but these warnings have been ignored,” she said.
“The Planning Department is siding with a multinational coal mining company in its plans to rip up the Hunter Valley’s heritage and erase the important history of colonial violence on the Ravensworth Estate despite serious objections raised by the Wonnarua Plains Clan.
“If the Independent Planning Commission approves this expansion project, it will be impoverishing every person in New South Wales, just so Glencore can make a little bit more money mining coal and fuelling climate change.
“This is a line in the sand moment for the Perrottet Government. We cannot allow a multinational coal mining company to tear up an irreplaceable site that tells the unique story of the Hunter and its communities which Traditional Owners want to see protected.
“We will never get back what we will lose if we allow Glencore to rip up this heritage in the Hunter Valley and continue its rapacious climate-wrecking coal expansion plans. This is about the Hunter’s past, as well as its future, and we will not stand for it.”
Ms Woods also said the Glendell expansion, which would contribute 226.9 million tonnes of CO2-e (GHG data here, RTS Part A, pg 28) was at odds with Glencore’s own stated emissions reduction commitments.
“Glencore announced a cap on coal production two years ago, claiming it ‘recognises the importance of disclosing to investors how the company ensures that material capital expenditure and investments are aligned with the Paris Goals’. The Glendell expansion project shows how hollow Glencore’s climate change commitments are.”
NOTE: The independent NSW Heritage Council is an independent statutory body separate from Heritage NSW, which is part of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet.