The Guardian 14 February, 2007

Residents maintain Anvil resistance

Over 150 concerned residents of Warnervale on the NSW Central Coast met last Monday to hear about a proposal to build an underground coal mine in their area. Included in the proposal is a coal stockpile and a train loading facility all within 2.5kms of a major residential area planned for the Warnervale district. The Warnervale primary school is also close to the planned mine infrastructure, approximately 3.5kms away.

Most of the concerns raised by the attendees were in relation to the long-term damage that will be done to the creeks and rivers that are trying to supplement the already parched Central Coast’s water system. The mining company, owned by the South Korean Government, plans to use a "long wall miner" which causes a lot of subsidence. This type of mining has already occurred under the river systems that add water to Sydney’s water supply and has been proven to cause major damage to the creeks and river beds, making much of the water disappear.

Broad coalition of opposition

The MC for the evening was local Councillor Greg Best, who opened the meeting with a clear message that he stood by the local people in their opposition to the proposal. The convener of the meeting was Alan Hayes — a local resident and environmental activist. In the opening address he gave the audience an outline on the proposal, where the infrastructure is to be built.

In his address Alan refuted claims the company had made that the water aquifer would not be damaged and the surface works would use water from the mine and not the local water supply.

In fact the mining company claim they will clean up the water and add it to the local water supply.

CPA speaker

The next speaker was Peter Kennedy an Upper Hunter environmental activist from the Newcastle Branch of the Communist Party of Australia. He spoke about the dust situation in his home town of Muswellbrook, a major mining town in the Hunter Valley which is currently under siege from existing mines, those companies planning to expanding their operations, and companies planning new mines.

Peter spoke about the nonchalant attitude of the mining companies towards the serious health problems suffered by people in local communities caused by dust from the mines. It is well known that one in four school age children who live in the Upper Hunter have some sort of lung ailment, such as asthma or bronchitis.

ALP speaker

The sitting Member for Wyong, Jeff Hunter (ALP), outlined his fears as to the future of his electorate if the mining application was approved. He pointed out that a large percentage of the people who move to the Central Coast do so believing they will enjoy a quieter lifestyle in a cleaner environment. Most have spent large sums of money building quality homes for their families to enjoy and should the mine get approval the value of their dream homes will plummet dramatically.

Mr Hunter plans to take the concerns raised at the meeting to his boss Morris Iemma and Minister for Planning Frank Sartor as soon as possible.

Greens say:

Upper house Greens MP Lee Rhiannon told the gathering of the importance of protecting the fragile creeks and river systems of the already dry Central Coast and the long-term damage that the mine will do to Warnervale. She also outlined the need to get away from fossil fuel and move toward renewable energy systems.

Ms Rhiannon, and local Greens groups have been long-term activists on the campaign and are now calling for the NSW State Government to make its decision on whether the mine will go ahead before the state election on March 24.

And others

Retired union boss and now resident of the Central Coast Jack Camborne gave the meeting an update on the struggle that is happening where he lives after mining has ceased and the poor effort made by the mining company in rehabilitating the site.

Other speakers included a local consultant psychiatrist who spoke about the added stress that has become very noticeable since the announcement of the mine project. This is addition to the stresses already caused by the dust, noise, and lights at night.

After all the speakers had had their turn at the microphone the MC for the evening Greg Best opened the floor for questions and general comment.

During his summing up, Mr. Alan Hayes had two resolutions to put to the meeting and they were:

  • The meeting rejects the concept of the enquiry and calls on the state government to make its decision on the mine before the upcoming state election;

  • The meeting also rejects the concept of any mining under the water catchment area for the Central Coast.

    Both resolutions were carried unanimously.

    The community action group will keep The Guardian informed on future developments.

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