Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed the decision by the NSW Government to pause new mine approvals in the Special Areas of Sydney’s drinking water catchment while it considers a new scientific report on the damage caused to water supplies and the environment.
The expert report, released yesterday, found that:
Surface water that should be reaching dams is flowing into longwall mines.
Current estimates show existing mines are leading to the loss of 8 million litres of water each day, equivalent to 2,920 million litres per year, to Sydney’s water supply systems.
Longwall mining can lead to drainage of swamps which is likely to be irreversible
There has still been no assessment of the long-term cumulative impacts of mining on water quantity and quality in the Greater Sydney Water Catchment.
It follows advice from WaterNSW last month that the proposed Dendrobium coal mine expansion in the catchment would have unacceptable impacts on water resources.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Nic Clyde said, “This report shows coal mines are currently draining at least 1,168 Olympic-swimming pools of water each year from Sydney’s drinking water supply.
“It’s outrageous that Sydney-siders are facing water restrictions as the drought worsens, yet coal mining companies are getting a free run at our water supplies.
“We congratulate the NSW Planning Minister on acting decisively to freeze new mines in response to the expert report and the risks to drinking water it has exposed.
“It’s appalling that after 10 years of longwall coal mining in Sydney’s special catchment areas, the experts are saying there is still not enough data to fully assess the long-term damage.
“When we’re talking about crucial water supplies for the country's largest city, ‘drain and be damned’ just doesn’t cut it.
“This freeze needs to continue unless or until any new mining projects can guarantee that they will not have any negative impact on Sydney’s precious drinking water.”
Back in 2015, WaterNSW estimated (P. 23) the cost of the replacement of water at $2,276 per ML.
Based on this estimate, well over $6 million per year of drinking water is now disappearing down mine shafts each year.