A Hunter Valley community’s struggle with the impact of nearby coal mining operations will worsen if multinational Glencore is allowed to extend the life of one of its projects and defer crucial transition planning.
The Mangoola coal mine is proposing to expand its operation closer to the village of Wybong and inflict considerable further damage to the rural community for just five additional years of mining, which local landholders say will have irreversible consequences for their community.
Wybong landholder Margot White said, “Young people in our district are saying they can’t wait to leave our district to get away from the mine. We want Wybong to have a future and that is not possible if this mine gets bigger.
“People in Wybong are hostages in their own homes because of government policy that says the Mangoola mine can operate 24 hours a day and create noise and dust pollution and we just have to put up with it. It has depopulated our district and left people stranded, unable to sell, driven mad by noise and sick from coal dust.”
“The Government hasn’t addressed the problems this mine has already caused. It’s just not acceptable for the mine to grow larger. I feel ashamed when I think about the terrible legacy we’re leaving for the young people."
The project’s social impact assessment describes how “once vibrant social events and celebrations e.g. Christmas and New Year, dances and group meetings, that used to occur in the Wybong Hall are now less frequent as a result of a dwindling population base” and describes the distress of people in the Wybong community.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said the Mangoola operation should not be granted approval to grow larger.
“The noise and dust from the mine has depopulated the district and those people that remain suffer physically and emotionally as a result,” Ms Woods said.
Ms Woods said there also appeared to be no plan to help the region’s economy when mining inevitably ended.
“The approvals for the seven closest mines to Muswellbrook, including Mangoola, are all slated to come to an end within the next eleven years. The intervening years are the time that Glencore should be preparing its own workforce for this change, as well as the broader Muswellbrook economy it admits is tightly intertwined with this mine and several other mines it owns.
“The mine’s social impact assessment shows that community members have told Glencore about their ‘desire for greater economic diversification, through the development and attraction of other industry and business sectors ... and the need to address land use conflicts and cumulative impacts.’ Expanding the mine will only worsen Muswellbrook’s dependence on coal and intensify those impacts and conflicts.”
“Lock the Gate urges the NSW Government to reject this extension and put in place a real plan to assist impacted communities diversify to a post mining future.”
Public comment on the Mangoola mine closes on 28 August. The Environmental Impact Statement is available here: https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/project/10131