Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Poor regulatory control of mining in water supply areas

Each longwall needs to be given permission by the Department of Primary Industries, but the Department has a conflict of interest, as it is the primary advocate of mining in NSW. It has not imposed mining prohibition zones under the streams nor otherwise guaranteed the ecological sustainability of our essential water supply areas by reducing the intensity of mining. Rehabilitation techniques are rejected (eg. cement grouting of cracks) as these are experimental, have been only 50 per cent successful at best, and are polluting in themselves.

The issue of water loss and damage to the catchment was highlighted at the 2001 commission of inquiry into the proposed Dendrobium Mine. In its submission, Sydney Catchment Authority said, “ There is evidence of pools being drained, reduce flows and a reduction in water quality….a potential for cracking beneath swamps to drain a significant amount of water contained in the swamps. This could lead to drying of swamps – adversely affecting their ecological integrity but also reducing water flows downstream. Practical means of remediation are generally not available.” (30 July 2001). The three failed repair efforts on Waratah Rivulet since then demonstrates that nothing has changed since 2001.