Hunter locals and health professionals are horrified at a new Environmental Impact Statement lodged by Mount Pleasant coal mine owner Salim Group that would drastically worsen the region’s already unacceptable air quality.
This week, Salim subsidiary MACH Energy Australia lodged an Environmental Impact Statement that, if approved, would extend the mine’s operations to 2046, double coal production, and double the number of coal trains - all on Muswellbrook’s doorstep.
MACH purchased the mine from Rio Tinto in 2016, and is not believed to have any other experience operating a coal mine in Australia.
The EIS contains health data for the Upper Hunter region (attached) which shows rates of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as the general death rate, are much higher than NSW generally.
Singleton doctor Bob Vickers desperately urged the NSW Government to flatly refuse the extension based on the health threat alone.
“We know large coal mines in the Hunter are directly responsible for higher rates of a variety of diseases here than in other parts of the country not impacted by coal mining,” he said.
“I am sick and tired of seeing the diseases caused by the coal mines of the Hunter Valley and the government’s total unwillingness to do anything to help.
“Our government introduced lock downs when the coronavirus was an immediate threat. The coal dust in the Hunter Valley has been a present and ongoing threat for many years now and nothing has been done.
“I would like to see the government listen to doctors on not just the public health threat of a pandemic but also the public health threat of air pollution and climate change.”
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “This coal mine extension would choke the life out of Muswellbrook.
“The social impact assessment in the EIS is candid about what locals have been saying for years about the health, wellbeing, and community damage already being experienced because of large scale mining. This extension would only make it worse.
“Already 20 properties in the district have been identified as likely to suffer air and noise pollution that is beyond acceptable standards and have the right to be bought out.
“The life of a mine must not be extended if it means the lifespans of locals will be reduced.”