Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Conservation group calls on coal miner to respect mining heritage

“Everyone who visits the oil shale ruins at Mt Airly will immediately fall in love with its delightful artefacts and spectacular setting. The ruins at Airly eloquently express the organic genius and determination of its past inhabitants, who struggled with adversity and hardship, and lived close to the earth.  Yet Centennial Coal’s proposal to expand its Airly Colliery under Mugii Murum-ban State Conservation Area will damage, if not destroy, this important mining heritage site,” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness said.

“Centennial Coal’s plans for its Airly mine were revealed earlier this month on the Federal Government’s Environmental Website[1]. The miner has proposed a mining method that will cause up to 500mm additional surface movement in the vicinity of the oil shale ruins, causing, they admit, damage to this fragile site”, said Mr Muir.

“The Colong Foundation believes it is in the interests of the NSW Minerals Council, the CMFEU and Lithgow City Council to pressure Centennial to fully protect this important example of our oil shale mining heritage, already located within a NPWS reserve.  The mining industry, and its allies, should actively promote and honour its own heritage, as such practical public relations is worth far more to the industry than the thermal coal extracted”, he said.

“Centennial’s intention to wilfully damage this mining heritage site demonstrates what’s so wrong with this industry. It illustrates the industry’s appalling lack of vision and empathy,” Mr Muir said.

Miner’s Oil Shale Heritage report not believable

The significant value of these oil shale heritage items at Mt Airly has been greatly understated by the miner’s consultant archaeologist, RPS Australia East Pty Ltd.  The ingenious cave dwellings of the miners, their mine workings, like the ventilation chimneys and steam engine emplacements, simply cannot be of just of local value as claimed.  The story told by these ruins is just too fascinating for the site to be destroyed,” said Mr Muir. 

“The Airly oil shale heritage is of national significance. It is as interesting, if not more interesting than other ruins, such as those at Newnes and Glen Davis, and in better condition” Mr Muir said.

“Centennial Coal should revise its mine proposal and protect the Airly Oil Shale ruins,” he said.

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