Green clash over new Hunter Valley coal mine

On May 9, Greens MP and self-styled mining spokesperson Lee Rhiannon today called on Premier Morris Iemma of New South Wales, Australia to reject the proposed Anvil Hill coal mine. “The mine would be a water and climate disaster. The Greens will be introducing our own Climate Futures Bill to stop it and we will be heavily supporting the protests at Anvil Hill,” Ms Rhiannon said. “The threat of zero water allocations in the Upper Hunter must be awake up call for the NSW government’s approach to coal mining. Each year this mine would use a massive 400 megalitres of Hunter River water at the expense of agriculture and the local economy.”

Centennial refutes the statements and says “the proposed Anvil Hill coal mine has adequate water licences available for planned future consumption, having already obtained sufficient water allocation licences to satisfy the project’s needs, estimated at no more than 400 mega litres per annum. To put the mine’s water needs into context, it is estimated that the mine requires approximately the same amount of water as an average vineyard or horse stud.

“Water usage has been a feature of Centennial’s planning process for the project, which will use sophisticated water capture and recycling systems as part of the mine’s design. Water issues were addressed by the Independent Hearing Assessment Panel, with the only relevant matter raised being a requirement that the mine hold appropriate water licences. The mine has already met this requirement, holding more than sufficient licences to meet its long-term water requirements. The proposed Anvil Hill mine has been subject to arguably the most rigorous environmental assessment process and has cleared every scientific, environmental and technical hurdle (including water management and usage).”

Ms Rhiannon described Centennial Coal’s attitude as “arrogant, characteristic of the mining industry which exploits the weak NSW planning and environment laws to ignore the dangers of climate change and water shortages. The Anvil Hill coal mine would damage the ground water and impact on surface run-off in the lower catchment to Wybong Creek, which flows into the Hunter River.

She further claimed that “the annual 10.5 Mt of coal that Anvil Hill would produce is a bad news story.  The mine would add more than  529 Mt of carbon dioxide to the earth’s atmosphere over the next 21 years. We are already facing increasingly frequent and severe droughts as a result of global warming. Increasing the risk of runaway climate change will be more bad news for water users in the Hunter and the environment.

“The needs of the local community and the environment suffer because of the close relationship mining companies have established with the NSW government,” Ms Rhiannon said.