Lock the Gate Alliance is urging NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro to use an existing clause to stop the destructive Shenhua Watermark coal mine from being built, following a litany of new, deeply troubling revelations made public during the past few weeks.
Under the terms of Shenhua’s coal exploration licence, which was renewed in 2018, the NSW Government created an opportunity to cancel the licence if the multinational mining company failed to apply for a mining lease by 30 June 2020.
The company is yet to make an application for a mining lease and is required to pay the NSW Government $200 million when it does so.
Lock the Gate’s call comes after media today reported an expert hydrologist’s concerns that damage to underground water resources from the mine may be far worse than government forecasts, and could lead to many water bores used by farmers drying up.
Traditional Owners are now suing the Minister over the decision, and have renewed their calls for the sites to be protected.
As well, koalas living in the area face being wiped out if the mine proceeds.
Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said it was clearly in the public interest for Mr Barilaro to cancel Shenhua’s exploration licence on June 30.
“This project should never have been approved by this government. It is incompatible with the agricultural future of one of the most important food bowls in the country,” she said.
“Shenhua has had half a decade to lodge a mining lease, but has not done so.
"Shenhua is clearly not that keen to go ahead with this mine and public opposition to it is stronger than ever so the company’s time is up and the NSW Government must cancel the licence.
“John Barilaro would be applauded from the plains to the coast if he stopped this mine and its terrible impacts on the cultural heritage of First Nations people, the groundwater that farmers rely on, and the koalas that are only just hanging on.
“This cancellation clause was created two years ago to give the Berejiklian Government one last change to stop this destructive mine. They have the power to stop it and they must use it.”
The mine is expected to produce up to 10 million tonnes of coal each year over its 30-year lifetime, if it is built.