No coal mining in Sydney’s water catchment

Sydney Knitting Nannas and Friends have written letters to MPs in an attempt to wake them up to the impacts of coal mining in the Greater Sydney Water Catchment. South32’s proposed 30 year extension of their Dendrobium Mine underlies the drinking water of five million people in Greater Sydney.

Against overwhelming scientific advice and after rejection by the Independent Planning Commission, the NSW Government made this mine extension State Significant Infrastructure. Now the decision to approve or reject the extension is in the hands of NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts also known as the NSW king of coal.

When submissions for the Dendrobium Mine Extension Project were called Knitting Nannas lodged their objections. Below are the principle points of concern. 

  • Australia, the driest continent on Earth, is the only country that allows long wall mining under a drinking water catchment of a major city.  Previous long wall mining caused subsidence of 2.5m-3m, creating cracks in the sandstone water storage.  Rivers, creeks, wetlands and swamps that feed our drinking water reservoirs have already disappeared on the Illawarra Plateau. The proposed mining is 300m from Avon Reservoir and 630m from Cordeaux Reservoir.
  • Consultants estimate that up to 9,500 Mega litres of surface and ground water would flow into the mines each year, which is the equivalent to the annual usage of 123,940 residents of Greater Sydney. 
  • Water NSW has drawn attention to the “’paradigm shift’ in scientific understanding and policy settings that has occurred since the last mine was approved to the Special Area” . Their Catchment Assessments Manager stated, “Water NSW will continue to advocate for the protection of water quantity and quality within the Special Areas and more broadly within the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment.” Special Areas are off-limits or restricted to the general public.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes clear that, to keep global emissions below 1.5 degrees, countries cannot approve more coal and gas mines.  The South 32 extension would mine coal with higher gas concentration than the existing mine. Increasing greenhouse gas emissions is inconsistent with the Federal Government’s commitment to lower emissions by 43% on 2005 levels by 2030.
  • More coal from this mine is not needed for steelmaking by Bluescope. The existing Dendrobium Mine still has 8 years of coal to be mined under current approvals and South32 has other coalmines in the region.  One third of Dendrobium’s coal is sold for use in the Port Kembla Steel works. Bluescope is developing clean energy alternatives including biochar and renewable hydrogen.
  • More damage will be done to the flora and fauna of this fragile environment. Endangered koala populations exist in the Special Area.  Further destruction of their habitat must be stopped.
  • This project would damage and desecrate Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Please join the Nannas in calling on our MPs to do whatever they can to stop the Dendrobium expansion.

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