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Residents to rally outside “phony” NSW Minerals Council awards event

Hunter Central Rivers Alliance

People affected by the impacts of the NSW coal-mining industry will hold a protest rally outside the NSW Minerals Council's “phony” Health, Safety, Environment, and Community awards and conference at a Hunter Valley resort this morning.

The rally will seek to highlight the twisted irony of NSW mining companies awarding themselves for their impacts on “health, safety, environment, and community”, and will call on the NSW Government to introduce cumulative impact assessments for multiple mining proposals, which remains an unfulfilled Coalition pledge.

The rally will hear from people around the Hunter who suffer the cumulative impacts of coal mining on families, communities, and the environment, including AnneMaree Maclaughlin from Bulga.

“It's sickening that mining companies are giving themselves awards for community health, when they are the biggest contributors to air pollution in our region”, said Ms McLaughlin.

“People around here have to lock their kids inside some days, the air gets so bad. These companies close our roads, they keep us awake at night, they force people out of our community. And they're giving themselves awards for this? They must be kidding!”

Carol Bennett of Gloucester will speak to the rally about the Rocky Hill project of Gloucester Resources Limited. “GGRL is a member of the Minerals Council, and the proponent of the Rocky Hill open cut coal mine barely a kilometre from residential areas of Gloucester,” said Ms Bennett.

“That mine would smother our town with air pollution, and cause sickness and death in our community. Are they going to give themselves an award for that?”

Rally organiser Bev Smiles said residents were calling on the NSW Government to start properly assessing the cumulative impacts of multiple mining proposals.

“It's been five years since the NSW Government promised to ensure that the cumulative impacts of coal mining would be addressed – that mines wouldn't just be considered one by one, but altogether, as they effect the people of the Hunter region who are surrounded by them”, said Ms Smiles.

“Since then more and more mine projects have spread across the Hunter, clearing the bush, choking the air and driving people from their homes. We are still waiting for them to deliver this cumulative impact assessment”, said Ms Smiles.

Ms Smiles' community of Wollar is facing extinction by the expansion of Peabody Energy's Wilpinjong mine near Mudgee. The mine has been nominated for an award in the “environment” category at the Minerals Council event, for completing legally-required rehabilitation.

The rally will conclude with a “real awards” ceremony to recognise the harmful impacts of mining on communities and the environment, and the harmful influence of the mining lobby over public policy.

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