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Water woes: Wallarah 2 Coal Mine approval underneath Central Coast drinking water catchment condemned

Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price’s decision on Friday (Jan 18) to give the go ahead to the Wallarah 2 Coal Mine will harm residents of the Central Coast and threatened wildlife, according to Lock the Gate Alliance. 

It’s been estimated that the proposed mine will result in the loss of up to 300 ML a year from the Central Coast's drinking water catchment during its 28 year lifespan, though there is some uncertainty about the quantum of that loss. 

It would extract five million tonnes of thermal coal per annum for export, resulting in total greenhouse gas emissions of more than 264 million tonnes of CO2. 1. 

Proponent KORES, which plans to export the coal for power generation, proposes to construct a pipeline to deliver compensatory water to the Central Coast Council, but has not demonstrated how this could be achieved. 

Lock the Gate Hunter regional coordinator David Burgess said the approval was an indication the Australian Government’s priorities are still not sufficiently focused on water conservation. 

“We condemn this reckless and short-sighted decision. Environment Minister Melissa Price is acting like a drip in approving this water-draining project,” he said. 

“This summer is showing us how precious water is and how disastrous it can be and how vulnerable we are when it runs dry. It’s reckless and unacceptable for a coal mine to undermine the water for the growing cities of the NSW Central Coast, which has suffered from water shortages in the past.” 

The NSW Government approved the project last year, however that approval is now the subject of a judicial review taken by local group the Australian Coal Alliance which was heard in November. The judgement is still pending. 

Mr Burgess said, “Concerned citizens across the country will support the people of the Central Coast in opposing this project. 

“At a time like this, our governments should not be putting precious water resources at risk, especially not for new thermal coal mines.”

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