Whitehaven Coal should formally scrap its proposed destructive Vickery coal mine expansion and put an end to the threat upending lives of residents in the north west, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
The company announced a delay to the project today, and said “volatile market conditions” had prompted it to shelve plans to push ahead with the expansion this year.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said the company was toying with locals’ lives.
“Whitehaven sounds very uncertain about whether it will proceed with this mining project and we heartily and sincerely hope they do not,” she said.
“The company should do the honourable thing and withdraw the project, rather than leaving it to linger over the lives of locals in the Boggabri district.
“The Vickery coal mine will damage local groundwater, put an iconic heritage property at risk, and worsen the social damage large-scale mining has already inflicted on the local community.
“What the Namoi district needs is long-term sustainable development that will create lasting jobs that don’t compromise precious groundwater. Whitehaven cannot deliver that and should withdraw this destructive coal mine expansion.”
Whitehaven has had approval to mine at Vickery for five years, but has never proceeded with planned mining at the site. Instead, it submitted a new application for a larger mining project, which is yet to be determined by the Independent Planning Commission.
The Commission reviewed the proposal in April 2019 and found there was considerable uncertainty about its predicted impacts on groundwater, heritage and the social fabric of the rural district as well as the “strategic context” and justification of the mine. It noted that it would need to be considered against the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
The Department is expected to release its final assessment report on the project soon which will trigger the final stage of the Independent Planning Commission’s decision process.
The homestead of the revered poet Dorothea Mackellar, said to have inspired the poet’s famous ode “My Country”, is now owned by Whitehaven and there are fears the mine could damage the property.