A new independent scientific review has found major failings with a Queensland Government investigation into the loss of water in farming bores near the New Acland Coal Mine, with farmers now pointing the finger at the mine for causing the drainage.
Farmers at Mt Darry, north of the existing Acland coal mine, have experienced major drawdown in their water bores over recent years and believe the mine is the most likely cause.
The report, by Dr Matthew Currell of RMIT, has thrown doubt over previous analysis by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, and has identified gaps and weaknesses which suggest that mining impacts are not properly understood.
Mt Darry cattle farmer Michael Klein, who lives north of the mine, said: “My bore dropped seriously about four years ago and that’s when I started to worry.
“My neighbour’s two bores went dry. Mine didn’t go completely dry, we’ve got a bit of water now but it’s never gone back to what it originally was. The only explanation that seems to make sense to me is that the mine caused it.
“We had several meetings with department staff about it, it seemed to be going well, we felt like we were going places, then all of a sudden it came to a halt. We couldn’t speak to the blokes we previously could speak to - they just weren’t available.
“We were told our water wasn’t going into the mine, so I asked them to put dye in it to prove where it was going. One group of staff said it could be done, then others said it couldn’t, and that’s when all the contact came to a halt,” he said.
Dr Currell’s review ultimately identified major weaknesses in the DNRM analysis, and concluded ‘The absence of such data and analysis contributes to ongoing uncertainty regarding the findings of the report’.
Oakey Coal Action Alliance secretary Paul King said: “Professor Currell’s findings are worrying. Landholders in the Kulpi region have long suspected there is a direct correlation between mining activities at New Acland and drainage of their water bores.
“Unfortunately, these landholders still do not have a conclusive answer as Dr Currell’s report simply casts further doubt on what should have been a rigorous, scientific report from the department.
“Instead, and faced with a potential expansion of the mine, these landholders remain in the dark about the extent to which New Acland operations are impacting their bores, and their livelihoods.”