Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Proposed Restarting of Invincible Open-cut mine a disingenuous understatement

“The Manildra Group of companies today lodged a proposal to reopen the Invincible open-cut coal mine that was twice rejected by the Planning Assessment Commission in 2014.  Manildra has disingenuously made the open-cut proposal small while at the same time it has applied for access to coal resources in an area of 1,368 hectares around the proposed mine site.  Manildra has applied for coal exploration licences No. 5289 and 5290 over much of the Ben Bullen State Forest that is of high conservation value,” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness said.

“Mandildra’s exploration licences reveal there’s a far bigger agenda than that presented in the environmental assessment report released today,” Mr Muir said.

“Manildra’s claims that this open-cut proposal is a tiny, short term operation, essential for access to specialty low-ash coal, that it will manufacture into particles 10-30mm in size, it calls nut coal.  Manildra says they want to mine 85,000 tonnes of nut coal a year for up to eight years but a further 1.1 million tonnes a year of coal will go to Mt Piper power plant if the proposal is approved.  It is a case of the “nut coal” tail wagging a thermal coal dog, but this and the exploration licences are only half the story”, said Mr Muir.

Conservation outcomes ignored

“Ben Bullen State Forest has been assessed as worthy of reservation under the National Parks and Wildlife Act by the Office of Environment and Heritage and such reservation was recommended by the Planning Assessment Commission when it rejected the Coalpac proposal in 2014,” he said.

“If this mining proposal is approved, an irreplaceable and internationally significant pagoda landscape unique to Ben Bullen will slowly be ruined. It seems that all of it could be mined while none of it is reserved in a national park or state conservation area”, Mr Muir said. 

“This is a foot in the door proposal and should be rejected.  The Planning Assessment Commission reported that there was an inherent incompatibility of open-cut mining with preserving the internationally significant conservation value of the site.  Manildra only justification is that the proposal is just a small open-cut mine but that claim is untrue.  And you’d have to be nuts to believe that only the Invincible mine can provide Manildra’s Nowra plant with nut coal, yet that is the only other point made to justify this incredible proposal”, said Mr Muir.