Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

The Gardens of Stone - a story to break the hardest heart

Imagine, New South Wales has its very own Bungle Bungle Range just 2½ hours from Sydney on the western edge of the Blue Mountains.  It is a place of superlative scenery and tremendous botanical diversity.  Today the Colong Foundation reveals that this little known wonderland called the Gardens of Stone may soon be spoiled if high impact coal mining is not curbed. 

“The Colong Foundation’s recent report (The impact of coal mining on the Gardens of Stone) documents how the coal industry’s environmental record is being etched and caved onto the Gardens of Stone landscape,” said Keith Muir Director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Coal mining has:

·         Caused several hundred cliff collapses in the most beautiful part of the Blue Mountains;

·        Monitored these cliffs falls for 30 years, rather than acted to reduce the damage;

·         Turned (nationally endangered) swamps to dust by cracking near-surface aquifers;

·         Poisoned (nationally endangered) swamps with eco-toxic mine effluent;

·         Turned the Wolgan River red;

·         Claimed an environmental award for providing dirty, saline mine effluent to a power plant that shortly afterwards required a major repairs to its condensers costing tens of millions of dollars;

·         Blighted the landscape with a network of roads, pipes, survey lines and power lines;

·         Polluted drinking water supplies for Lithgow with nickel. 

The list goes on”, Mr Muir said.

“In its monitoring reports to government the coal industry regularly understate the damage caused,” he said.  “Mine operations do not work minimise environmental damage and have been largely unresponsive to environmental concerns”, he added.

“Crevasses, cliff falls and rock fractures are spoiling the sandstone beauty of the Gardens of Stone.  Yet despite the intense study of mine subsidence for 30 years, the natural geomorphological processes that control cliff falls are not understood”, said Mr Muir.

“The Gardens of Stone in NSW is as spectacular as the Bungle Bungle Ranges, with a far greater floristic diversity.  It must not be needlessly degraded by coal mining, as it can be preserved for everyone to enjoy,” Mr Muir said.

The damage can be curbed by reducing mining intensity.  Taking such action would actually employ more miners and save this outstanding environment.  One colliery has reduced its mining intensity, and a new one is about to start that will be far less damaging than previous operations.  The State and Federal Governments should step in to protect from further damage the nationally endangered shrub swamps, the streams, cliffs and the sandstone pinnacles called pagodas that make up this natural wonderland”, Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)