Lock the Gate has made a scathing submission against the proposed new United Wambo coal mine between Warkworth and Jerry’s Plains in the central Hunter Valley saying it is based on secret information that has not been disclosed to the public and the mine risks pushing a critically endangered ecological community towards extinction.
Georgina Woods said, “Despite financial question marks hanging over Peabody Australia and despite detailed assessment material being kept secret from the public, the NSW Government seems to be rolling out the red carpet to rush through this ill-considered project.
“Our analysis shows that proposed United Wambo pits will clear over 200 hectares of a critically endangered forest that occurs only in the Hunter.
The conservation advice for the listing of the critically endangered Central Hunter Eucalypt Forest warned that the community could be extinct in 45-60 years if key threatening actions are taken, and lists avoiding further clearing for mining as a first priority for its preservation.
“The proponent is attempting to apply the secretive ‘Upper Hunter Strategic Assessment’ to get approval for this mine, a process which has not been finalised and has never been seen by the public.
"The offsetting arrangements they propose are in violation of established offsetting policy, promising ‘rehabilitated’ mine areas as replacement vegetation for most of their destruction of intact native bushland.
“This mine project is the epitome of NSW’s failed mining laws. The NSW Government is going to allow nationally unique bushland to be destroyed by a company that is teetering on the precipice of financial ruin.
“We’re calling for the flawed environmental assessment documents to be withdrawn and more studies conducted on the impacts of the project as well as urgent investigation into the financial viability of Peabody to undertake such a project,” she said.
In 2015, Peabody Australia made a $3b loss, and auditor Ernst & Young has warned of doubts about the Australian company’s ability to keep operating as a going concern.