Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Environment groups call for more protection for NSW’s "Bungle Bungles" - new Baal Bone mine plan risks Coxs River headwaters and the Wolgan Escarpment

Blue Mountains Conservation Society
The Colong Foundation for Wilderness
Lithgow Environment Group

Blue Mountains environment groups believe that the sensitive northern areas of Baal Bone Colliery should be surrendered by Xstrata as part of the development proposal for mine completion and rehabilitation. 

“Xstrata’s development application for completion of mining at Baal Bone Colliery includes the ‘northern’ area that is not proposed for mining.  We are asking Planning Minister, Tony Kelly to protect this areas of tremendous botanical diversity and magnificent scenery”, said Ms Tara Cameron, President of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society.

“Xstrata has acknowledged the environmental importance of this ‘northern’ area and recognised that economic mining operations are effectively incompatible with retaining the integrity of the beautiful area (see image - 1.8 Mb).  The economic constraints in the area include faults, complex and rugged terrain, and a thinning, dirty coal seam”, Ms Cameron said.

“To the south in the last areas proposed for longwall mining, the dramatic 300 metre high Wolgan Escarpment would be forced to lean backwards, perhaps putting this cliff at risk of collapse,” said Mr Keith Muir, Director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The longwall operations near the Wolgan Escarpment should be curtailed, particularly as any cliff falls would be seen by visitors to the Emirates’ Wolgan Valley Resort”, he said.

“Despite 30 years of monitoring, the actual mechanisms of cliff falls have not been studied in the region.  There are two mechanisms of mine induced cliff falls; toppling and block sliding.  Back-tilting and sliding collapse was the mechanism that produced the spectacular Nattai cliff fall on the southern side of Lake Burragorang, Sydney main water storage.  If back-tilting and sliding are the geomorphological mechanisms that formed the Wolgan Escarpment, then allowing mining operations to tilt the Escarpment backwards would increase the risk of cliff falls,” said Mr Muir.

“The Long Swamp which forms the headwaters of the iconic Coxs River has already been affected by mining.  The ponds in Long Swamp were always full until October 2009 when the waterholes in Long Swamp began to dry up following longwall mining”, said Chris Jonkers of the Lithgow Environment Group. 

“Areas of important montane heath and upland swamp are dying and repairs to the area’s groundwater aquifers are required to return water flows through the swamp and return this headwater of Sydney’s main water storage to a healthy condition” he said.

Contacts: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)
                Tara Cameron 0419 824 974 (mob)

The GoogleEarth.kmz filehere, gives a visual picture of cliff collapses (you need the GoogleEarth prog.)

The GPS co-ordinates and a brief description for over 200 damage sites are available, here