Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Coalpac’s hill side scalping open-cut mine proposal must be rejected

“In a surprising development, Lithgow council last week resolved to oppose Coalpac’s open-cut mining plans that would scalp 1088 hectares of scenic forests on both sides of the Castlereagh Highway north of the Mt Piper power plant.  These forests are a scenic gateway to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area beyond, but if this open-cut mine were approved it would end up looking like the Gates of Hyades,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The Lithgow City Council has called for the proposed Coalpac mine to relocate its operation underground.  The rejection of Coalpac’s proposal demonstrates just how very destructive it would be to open-cut mine one of the most scenic parts of the Great Dividing Range – the Gardens of Stone”, Mr Muir said.

Hillside scalping in public forests - a bad precedent for coal mining in NSW

“Approval of the adjoining Coalpac proposal would drastically lower the coal industry bench-mark for environmentally acceptable mining.  It must not become acceptable to scrap scenically prominent hillsides of their rare forests just to grab the last bits of coal from an area that has already been mined for over 100 years,” Mr Muir said.

“The Baal Bone colliery next door has chosen not to open-cut mine the scenic forests of the Gardens of Stone there, but instead has confined its now completed open-cut operations to the flatter farmland below the forest,” he said. 

“The NSW Government must reject the Coalpac mine proposal and prevent a bad coal mining precedent.  The proposed coal mining would, if approved, almost surround the small township of Cullen Bullen with an open-cut mine, creating an unhealthy, dusty industrial landscape”, said Mr Muir.

“The proposed open-cut mining of the hillsides that ‘buttress’ the cliffs above the mine threatens cliff falls and collapse of the beautiful pagoda rock pinnacles.  The open-cut mining risk is increased by the addition of mechanical auguring that intends to remove the coal that lies under the cliffs.  There is a risk that sandstone blocks could roll onto mine workers due to the combined effects of wholesale removal of buttressing hill slopes and surface subsidence from coal auguring” he said. 

"This sort of hillside open-cut coal mining below cliff lines is unprecedented, yet the risks to mine workers have not been adequately considered, while the horrible scaring of the remarkable Gardens of Stone landscape is just unthinkable”, said Mr Muir.

For more info contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk); 9550 3615 (ah); 0412 791 404 (mob)